“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing so some have entertained angels unaware.”
We heard this in Scripture and in sermon on Sunday as Robbie reminded us of the strangers “entertained” by a gracious Abraham and his wife Sarah. They would discover that these strangers were directly from God, messengers who would speak God’s promise of a son in their old age.
I thought of the stories my Grandma Gray told me as a child. She and Grandpa and the family lived on a busy street corner in Lewistown, Pa, a busy railroad town. She would tell about the hobos – yes, that’s right, real hobos!- who would knock on their door for a meal during the Great Depression of the 1930’s.
She would feed them- without hesitation. No matter the color or condition or age of the traveler. She would tell me about their conversations, about the circumstances and even the weather that evening. I am sure that there was some embellishment in her tales; they had a “Hallmark” quality by the time they got told to me. But I could see and hear the pride, the joy, she took in remembering those moments and the men who came for food. Her stories were not about what she got but what she gave, not the people in high places she met but those in the depths of need she served. And yes, she knew full well that God was present in those encounter, that she was entertaining angels.
I think of Cindy and Marilyn Richards who, as we worked on the Memorial Service for their mother, described the welcome they received from the church as they came here as “strangers” about ten years ago. I think of those in our last new members class who are members and actively so because you invited them, welcomed them, included them…those who come into our halls each month for the Food Bank- to receive food and a warm welcome…those who find a place receive food, shelter and “family” for their families through Family Promise…those who walk through our doors on a Sunday morning , “strangers” to us, but hungry for God and no strangers to Him.
On Monday morning I visited my grandson’s preschool class for their “father’s day” at the school. I noticed that I looked a bit older than the rest on the fathers and a lot more clean cut. When Jamie and I sat down to eat our sundaes, I was across from the roughest looking guy in the crowd. Breaking the ice I asked him what he did. ” I fight,” he answered matter of factly. ” Ah, I mean, what is your job?”
” I’m a fighter – MMA, mixed martial arts. Been injured for a while, but I train every day, hope to get back in the ring this summer. Yeah, I’m a fighter. What do you do?”
“I’m a preacher.”
I wanted to think up something else – like mountain climber or rock star or professional wrestler ( I do the wrestling for free- with my grandson). But my answer opened up a delightful conversation. The young father’s warmth and love for his son came through. I noticed the son’s name tattooed on his neck right there with his other son’s name. I noticed his eyes lighting up as he talked about being a father and as we both laughed about life with five year olds. The young tough looking guy and the old clean cut guy…two strangers…entertaining angels unaware.
You see, it is not that complicated. It means to see each person as a child of God and to treat them that way. It means to be alert and responsive to those who are strangers to us- at the office, the school, the factory, the neighborhood, and certainly the church. It means, as Robbie and the Scriptures reminded us, that loving the stranger is not an option for followers of Jesus; it is central. It is who we are called to be.
Do that and you will see God.
See you on Sunday,
Some very important notes: this Sunday is Music Sunday when we honor those who have been a part of our ministry of music. Lots of special music will highlight the worship. The sermon: “Hijacked by the Holy”
The next Sunday is Pentecost Sunday. Robbie and I will begin a series of sermons on the Letter of Paul to the Philippians, “To My People with Love”.
Oh yes, and plan to wear red on that day- Mat 24.
Finally, see the notice below on the phones at the church. We are working as fast as we can to resolve the problems.
“We wanted to alert you that the church voicemail system is down at this time. Please call during normal business hours or contact us by email if possible, and we appreciate your patience if we have not responded to your call promptly.
If you have an emergency outside of normal business hours, please contact Beckie Price, Clerk of Session, at 412-427-5941.”