A mixed approach to hospitality

We’re in a season of hospitality. When people ask us if they can come and stay, we say “Yes” as much as we can. Our vicarage is massive – and not technically ours – so we like to share this oasis in north London. Yes, in the winter it’s cold and the hot water runs out quickly, but we have the space to give our guests their own room, complete with sink and treadmill.

300px-Angelsatmamre-trinity-rublev-1410Just yesterday, a friend said to me, “I don’t know how you do it.” But how do we do anything, really? We say yes, not knowing what challenges or joys may face us. We press through, perhaps with some groaning and complaining. We might even gossip, and then have to draw a line under the murmuring. We may offer hospitality with mixed motives or unclean hearts. Whenever do we offer God a completely pure offering? But he delights to receive our gifts.

This morning I looked at an upcoming Bible reading notes assignment: Genesis 18:1-15. Unlike my husband, I don’t have one of those brains that retains info – so it was only when I turned to the text that I said, “Ah, Abraham and the angels!” How delightful to write some devotionals on this text, in which Abraham welcomes three visitors, eagerly choosing a choice goat for their meal and asking Sarah to find the best flour for the bread. Many theologians believe the three men are angels who represent God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

During this visit, one of the men says that Sarah will give birth to a son. So unlikely that statement seems to her that she laughs (behind the man’s back, which she later denies). I’m not saying that they are given a son because they are hospitable and welcoming, but I find it interesting that this aged couple receive the promise of their heart’s desire when they open their hearts and lives, hosting strangers. And though Sarah isn’t the perfect host – laughing behind her guests back, after all – yet the guest blesses her.

How might you open your heart and home today?

Note 1: This passage inspired Andrei Rublev to paint his Holy Trinity icon around 1410. That’s another blog post or two – so many rich levels of meaning we find in a simple two-dimensional visual image.

Note 2: Check out the riches on the topic of hospitality at Godspace.

Leave a Reply