God appeared to Abraham
at the Oaks of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance of his tent.
It was the hottest part of the day. He looked up and saw three men
standing. He ran from his tent to greet them and bowed before them.
He said, "Master, if it please you, stop for a while with your servant.
I’ll get some water so you can wash your feet. Rest under this tree.
I’ll get some food to refresh you on your way, since your travels have
brought you across my path."
They said, "Certainly. Go ahead."
Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. He said, "Hurry. Get three cups of our best flour; knead it and make bread."
Then Abraham ran to the cattle pen and picked out a nice plump calf and
gave it to the servant who lost no time getting it ready. Then he got
curds and milk, brought them with the calf that had been roasted, set
the meal before the men, and stood there under the tree while they ate. Genesis 18:1-18 (TM)
I was struck as I read this morning by Abraham’s hospitality – his sense of duty to care for and treat a strange visitor with honor. It reminded me of Hebrews 13:1…Stay on good terms with each other, held together by love. Be ready
with a meal or a bed when it’s needed. Why, some have extended
hospitality to angels without ever knowing it! Have we forgotten what Jesus taught in the parable of the sheep and goats…"Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being
overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me."
We’ve lost a sense of hospitality in our culture, at least the hospitality I remember as a child. We don’t know our neighbors as well. We don’t make a big deal for guests. We don’t open our homes as readily or "bring out the fine china".
I think we’d do well to get back to truly believing our guests are Jesus’ very presence in our home.
Overwhelmed, Abram fell flat on his face. Genesis 17:3 (TM)
There is something about being on your knees – or in this case, on your face – before God. Not in the public "Hey look at me, aren’t I spiritual?" sense that Jesus warned against, but a very private act of humility before Almighty God. We’ve lost touch with some of those acts of humility in our proud, modern age.
We survived the weekend storm, though not without a few disappointments. The weather put a damper on the play that we’ve worked so hard to produce. We had good crowds Thursday (95) and Friday (115) but Saturday night we only had 30 people come out in the snow and ice. Sunday we had one of our actors unable to get out of her driveway and were forced to cancel the final performance. We considered rescheduling for next weekend, but there were too many conflicts. As one of the actors wrote me in an e-mail – "what a depressing weekend". It was. These people worked so hard and the show received such acclaim from the audiences that witnessed it. I wish we could have gotten it in front of more people.
Then the snow and ice split one of the trees in our backyard, sending it crashing into our roof and our neighbor’s garage roof. A large limb from our big oak in the front yard fell on another neighbor’s house, clipping the roof and doing damage to their gutters.
When [God] took [Abram] outside and said, "Look at the sky. Count the
stars. Can you do it? Count your descendants! You’re going to have a
big family, Abram!" And [Abram] believed! Believed God! God declared him "Set-Right-with-God." Genesis 15:5-6 (TM)
When a young man with a healthy new wife believes God’s promisethat he will have a huge family – that’s not faith. When an old man with a barren wife, who’s been trying to have children for years – believes that same promise – that’s faith. Faith is being assured of what we hope for.
What would you do differently in your life if you truly believed that God was for you, and was going to grant you success?
Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine—he was priest of The High God—and blessed him. Genesis 14:18 (TM)
Mel is an intriguing character who we don’t talk about much outside of theological circles. The Bible calls Mel "priest of The High God" before Moses, before the giving of the law, before the priesthood and code of sacrifice was established through Aaron. We really know very little else about him or how this came to be. It’s a bit mysterious. Yet, Mel brought out "bread and wine", becoming a clear picture to us of Jesus – our intercessor who brings out the bread and wine as a metaphor of his body and blood. Hebrews calls Jesus a "priest in the order of Melchizedek", quoting David in the prophetic Psalm 110.
I just wrote in my post yesterday that "faith requires leaving". Interestingly enough, last night was the final dress rehearsal for Morning’s at Seven. I’ve learned, in directing theatre, that there’s a point at which you have to let go and let a show be. The point may be at different places for different shows, but for this show it was last night.
At the end of rehearsal I gave the handful of notes I’d written during rehearsal, and then told the cast that I was done. I handed the show to them. No more notes. No more nagging about lines, projection, concentration or opening up (for which, I know they’re all grateful!). It’s all on them. Time for them to spread their wings and make this show fly.
Community theatre is a funny thing. You work with an all volunteer cast and crew. These amazing people are doing this because they love to do it. As a director you get actors and crew from all levels of experience and knowledge. Of course, I want to put a good show on stage for the audience – but my real goal as a director is to help actors and crew to go above and beyond what they thought they could do. I want the crew to walk away feeling proud that they were a part of making something special happen on stage. I want the actors to walk away saying, "I think that was my best performance, and I’m a better actor for having been in this show".
I don’t know if they will all say that, but I was overjoyed at the dress rehearsal last night. I saw performances that I would have scarce thought possible six weeks ago when I assembled the cast list. This incredible group of actors did a lot of work, they took their roles seriously, and the audience will be blessed to experience the results.
So, while the show opens tomorrow night – I’ve got no nerves – my stomach will do no flip-flops – I will sleep easy. I’ll let the actors and the crew have the nerves.
Faith requires leaving…and so I’ll leave this show to them – I know that they’ll put on a great show.
"God told Abram: ‘Leave your country, your family, and your father’s home for a land that I will show you.’" Genesis 12:1 (TM)
I was at a conference a few years back and Gordon McDonald was the speaker. He made one statement that has stuck with me the rest of my life: "Faith requires leaving". If you are really going to let God lead you to a land He has to show you – you must leave your own country behind. In New Testament terms: If you want to walk on the water with Jesus, you have to leave the boat.
Many people never experience the fullness of God’s promise, because they can’t bring themselves to leave.
When I’m standing at the threshold ready to take that first step I remember an old Eastern proverb: "Leap and the net will appear".