Friday, August 2, 2019

What is hospitality?

The letter to the Hebrews has this interesting verse that we should never slack in hospitality because one could entertain angels unaware. Perhaps it is a reference to Genesis 18 where Abraham ran and persuaded the three strangers to come and rest a while at his tent. The Greek word “angel” means messenger and sometimes it is not clear whether it is heavenly messenger or human messenger. By the time of Isaiah 44 and Haggai, prophets are seen as “angels” or “messengers” of God. That means by showing hospitality to strangers one might welcome a prophet of God and he can speak a word of truth or wisdom to the person showing hospitality just like Abraham received the promise of a son with Sarah or that Lot was saved from destruction of Sodom by the hospitality shown to the two messengers of God. What is hospitality? Hospitality is kindness in action and involves welcoming and accepting a person into our personal space either into our lives, our homes and our possessions. It is not mere words. How are you? Or good to see you means near to nothing if not followed by action. If that person is not even worth an offering of a drink or cup of water then greeting him means nothing or it is showing lack of hospitality.  Abraham ran to meet the three men. Abraham showed great imitative. He did not wait for people to come to him but he made an effort to meet the needs of others, especially travellers and foreigners as God’s Word repeatedly emphasises in the law of Moses. Show hospitality to strangers even as you were strangers in Egypt, says the Lord. Hospitality means welcoming the person into your personal space. One has to take time to receive others and oftentimes it means at least a meal is offered before the stranger goes on his way. Sometimes it involves staying overnight as in the case of Lot’s offer to the two men whom he saw in the city square. Welcoming someone especially strangers into one’s home involves a degree of risk. It involves a degree of vulnerability on the part of the host. It involves efforts and actions to meet the needs of those who come into our dwelling for a least a night or two. Abraham commanded Sarah to prepare the best meal for his visitors. He was not stingy in hospitality and set out a sumptuous meal for his guests. Lot risked the wrath of local inhabitants when he took in the two messengers of God. He was prepared to risk his own daughters

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