Sunday, August 11, 2013

Hospitality is About the Heart

"He said, 'If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by. Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and go on your way - now that you have come to your servant.' 'Very well,' they answered, 'do as you say.'" Genesis 18:3-5

Abraham, known as a "friend of God," had a servant's heart. He looks up from the door of his tent and sees these three men standing nearby. As was custom in his day if the guests were distinguished, he hurried to greet them, bowing low to honor them. He counts it a blessing to be able to serve them, that they might be refreshed along the way, and hurries to do so. "When he saw them, he meet them." (v. 2)  "...Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. 'Quick,' he said...bake some bread." (v. 6). "Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it." (v. 7). He then brought milk and butter and the food that was quickly prepared and set it before his guests. This was not a grand feast, but a hearty meal. He and Sarah were attentive and hospitable, offering the best of what they had. Abraham happily waited on his guests, entertaining strangers, who just may have been angels! 

"Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have 
entertained angels without knowing it." Hebrews 13:2

Many times we hesitate to entertain guests offering a variety of excuses: my house isn't clean enough or pretty enough, I don't know what or how to cook, I don't have enough extra to go around, it's just not my gift. But being hospitable is more about the company than the atmosphere or food. It doesn't have to be elaborate. This passage reminds me of a time years ago when my husband and I invited our Bible Fellowship teach and his wife - dear friends - over for lunch after church. Our budget was incredibly tight and we lived in a very small, old home, but I didn't want that to keep me from the joy of having company. I prepared a chicken enchilada soup and then realized I didn't have much to go with it, and no means to go to the store and buy something more. So I decided to pair it with grilled cheese sandwiches made from ingredients I had on hand. Though the meal seemed a bit meager, I set a nice table, we made our guests feel welcome and we had warm and wonderful conversation. I distinctly remember our friend Clark saying matter of fact, "I never thought of serving grilled cheese and soup!" I just smiled. I think he realized it was our best at the time and by all indications, he and Leslie left satisfied. We would share many more meals with our friends over the years, and still find great joy in doing so.

Father God, help me to remember that hospitality is not so much about the food as it is the heart. More than anything I pray that guests feel "at home" in my home, that they sense Your presence, and they leave feeling taken care - whatever I have to offer them from the kitchen! In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

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