Sermon Reflection for Sunday, July 21, 2019 | Respectfully submitted by Brenda Worley
The first reading of the day was the story from Genesis 18 in which Abraham is approached by three strangers by the oaks of Mamre. Abraham welcomed the strangers with open arms, greeting them warmly and feeding them. As they leave one of them declared that Sarah was to bear a son even though she was barren. It became obvious that the strangers were sent by the Lord.
There are many scriptures calling us to be hospitable and a few are highlighted as follows.
In Romans we are called to "Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality" (Romans 12:13). In Leviticus the Lord instructs as follows…“ ‘When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.’ ” ( Leviticus 19:33 – 34) And in Hebrews we are called to be hospitable as we… “Continue in brotherly love. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13: 1 – 2)
Hospitality was essential in this time as there were no restaurants, hotels or convenience stores. Abraham, Lot and Job all showed hospitality to strangers without complaining and thereby entertained angels unawares.
Hospitality is essential in our time as well. Our Red Door Food Pantry is a prime example of hospitality. Those who come are hungry for food, but we do encounter people in our everyday lives as well as in our church family who are hungry and in need of food of a different kind. That is why we stress that everyone is welcome.
There is certainly need of hospitality in our world. Globally, it is reported that there are 70.8 million refugees who have sought comfort and safety in other countries. Over half of these are children under the age of 18. They flee famine, war, and oppression in hopes of a better life.
Previously we were called to care for strangers in the story of the Good Samaritan. In this week’s gospel reading from Luke we learn of Jesus entering the home of Martha and Mary. He received hospitality in many forms. Mary sat at his feet and listened to all that he said. Martha busied herself with meal preparation. This work without the assistance of her sister brought her to the point of distraction and some bitterness. When she shared her feelings with Jesus in hopes that he would instruct Mary to help her, he said, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken from her.” (Luke 10; 41 – 42)
Hospitality is how we show our love of God. From this scripture we learn that hospitality is not all about serving nourishment in the form of physical food. Sometimes we are to nourish others with our listening, learning and compassion. We are all in need of love shown in a variety of ways. Neither Martha nor Mary were “right.” We are called to nourish ourselves like Mary, but also to go and serve as Martha. We must open our hearts and minds to learn and grow closer to God, but also share that love with others so they can see what love can do. After all, they may be an angel. You never know!