Warmly and generously welcoming newcomers is something we should do often and do together.
Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. 2 Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. 3 Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.
So many images come to mind when we think about hospitality. Thoughts of meals shared, time spent chatting & laughing. There are sparkles floating around these pictures in our heads – beautiful meals, hilarious jokes and fascinating conversations – images that are truly social media worthy.
The difficulty is that sometimes these images, the ideas they portray – in some ways the standards they set – are so far from the type of hospitality that is being described in this passage that they are actually unhelpful.
Here, we are being reminded to be generous and welcoming to people we do not know very well. That’s a challenge: to extend a welcome to someone that we hardly know. The focus of the event needs to be shifted away from ourselves, and what we are providing, to the people who are joining us. We need to spend time getting to know them, hearing their stories, being brave when the awkward silences come (as they always do when people are getting to know each other) – caring for our guests. Our new friends.
The writer of Hebrews then goes further to suggest that there is also potential for hidden surprises – entertaining angels. While I don’t know much about angels at tables, I do know that more than once, an evening has been surprising, and I wonder if this is what we should keep in mind. To embrace the unknown of new people in our homes. To live with the tension of what might happen when they walk through the door.
God loves his children to be generous and he has set us the task of showing Jesus’ great love to others by being loving. Lovingly giving our time to new friends. Should we try to do this well? Of course. Should we be stopped when our meal and our homes don’t look like they came straight out of a magazine shoot? No.
The writer then reminds us to remember those we have no hope of having in our homes. They are caught in prison. Kept from our door. People in such circumstances need to be part of our thoughts, definitely part of our prayers.
Finally, the writer starts out by giving these instructions to us, together. Brothers and sisters, together in a family. Hospitality is always fun where there are a group of people – sharing a meal, being together – eyes bringing the sparkle.
Head: Plan to mix together some “brothers and sisters” and some people you don’t know very well. Chat at Growth Group about who might join you, as you seek to share Jesus’ generous, warm love.
Heart: Pray about the meal. Pray for the conversations and the “vibe”, that it will be honouring to Jesus.
Hands: Practice a couple of recipes that are easy and yum, then send out the invitations.
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you that we can love people by being hospitable. Help us as we love new people in our lives as we point to Jesus. Thank you that we do this task together, as brothers and sisters. In Jesus precious name and by the power of the Holy Spirit.
A song to listen to: Only You Can Satisfy