Practicing hospitality—being a selfless host, providing a place of comfort and safety—is foundational to our ancestral heritage. God’s word, “I will never leave you or forsake you,” provides a beautiful reminder of an ongoing safekeeping by the host of creation. Hospitality begins with people with whom we spend the most time: our family members, good friends, next-door neighbors. Keeping vows to those to whom we have committed our love is an offering of hospitality in the form of safety and trust that allows new fruits to emerge: new children, shared responsibility, and tales of adventure. We not only provide the space for others’ safety and comfort, but we find ourselves increasingly able to be vulnerable, entrusting our own safety and care to the ones we love.
But it doesn’t end with those only in our midst. Many a disciple has understood Hebrews 13:2 as an ominous warning: “You’d better be good to whoever crosses your path”—it may just be an angel . . . or maybe even Jesus! And if you ignore Jesus or treat him badly, that would be awful. And this may well prove to be true. But if that is our motivation for being good to one another, then we will surely fall short of satisfaction because we will never know the richness of God’s presence for its own sake.
The truth is, we don’t have to imagine “what if that was an angel” because Jesus is already present within each of us and is especially present among the “least of these” or those pushed to the margins. The extension of hospitality is not simply sitting and waiting for whoever comes along but is an invitation to see how many angels—currently unknown by us—we can trust our lives with.
God, help us to go out seeking the angels in our world. Give us eyes to see Jesus in the face of each one we meet. Amen.
The admonition in Hebrews 13 “to show hospitality to strangers” is vividly illustrated by Jesus’ advice to guests and hosts in Luke 14. In the topsy-turvy world of divine hospitality, everybody is family. Radical hospitality makes sense only in light of the conviction that God rules the world and therefore adequate repayment for our efforts is simply our relatedness to God and our conformity to what God intends. The texts from Jeremiah and the psalm call the people of God back to commitment to God alone, rather than to the gods of the nations and their values. God is no doubt still lamenting our failure to listen but is also, no doubt, still inviting us to take our humble place at a table that promises exaltation on a scale the world cannot even imagine.
• Read Jeremiah 2:4-13. To whom or where do you go to ll your cup with living water?
• Read Psalm 81:1, 10-16. What shape does God’s bread and honey take in your life? Where are you being invited to open your mouth and to name the gift as sacred?
• Read Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16. How do you offer hospitality to those closest to you?
• Read Luke 14:1, 7-14. When have you been blessed by a party of mis ts? How can you extend the table?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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