The Privilege and Honor of Hospitality

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And the Lord appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing in front of him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth and said, “O Lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant.

They said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, “She is in the tent.” 10 The Lord said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. 11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah.12 So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?” 13 The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ 14 Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.” 15 But Sarah denied it, saying, “I did not laugh,” for she was afraid. He said, “No, but you did laugh.” –  Genesis 18:1-3, 9-15

Rocks and Cacti | Houston Botanical Garden | July 2021

Lydia got it. So did Abraham. We might have the same attitude if someone important to us came to visit. Or not… 

Early in my years of ministry the church leaders encourage members of the church to invite us to their home for dinner, or even a visit. One woman said, “But the pastor?!? I’ve never had a pastor visit before!” She was under the mistaken impression that we clergy types have some special aura that prevents others from being comfortable in our presence. Or she was afraid her house was not sufficiently clean. Or she thought she’s have to serve only angel food cake and certainly not deviled eggs! 

The most hospitable people we’ve ever known had a really messy house. Like uncomfortably messy. Perhaps dirty. Maybe even unsafe??? But they opened their hearts and home to us. Others have done the same. No apologies. Just an open home and heart, and a proffered meal. 

Still…it is appropriate to recognize something about having people in your home: It should be recognized and treated as a privilege and honor. When someone comes into your home it is truly right to receive them warmly and with all good manner of hospitality. It might be good to clean the goo from the countertops. It would be nice to have the dishes at least washed and not simply piled by the sink. I say this not to the shame of the people I mentioned above. But they were truly an exception. 

Having things done nicely is a sign of respect. It shows that you are honored to have people in your home. It indicates that they have value in your eyes. They are worthy of your effort to make things nice for them. 

This is what Abraham does. He invites these visitors to a meal and a respite. He kills a calf and serves curds and milk along with bread newly made. All this took time and effort.

Today we took our granddaughters to the Children’s Museum in downtown Houston. Then we went to the “It’s my pleasure,” place (Chick-Fil-A) for lunch. I don’t know who came up with that idea. Try it sometime…say thank you to a Chick-Fil-A worker and you’re sure to get, “It’s my pleasure,” in return. 

I wonder whether we need to be more like those workers. More like Abraham. More like the best Hotelier. The most sincerely-accommodating maître d’. Lydia. Check out her story in Acts 16:11-15. Who knows what kind of good news you might hear!

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