Tag Archives: Hebrews 13

Everyone Welcome (…or not)

Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.
Hebrews 13:2 (NIV)

When I was young, my parents continually told me and my siblings “Your friends are always welcome in our house.” They meant it. I can remember nights when entire groups of my brothers’ friends would show up. My brothers weren’t home, but their friends would sit around the living room with my parents for long chats. As the youngest sibling, I observed the warmth of my parents hospitality and the effect on those high schoolers.

As I got older, I never hesitated to offer to have an impromptu social at our house with entire throngs of my friends. Wendy has convinced me, in retrospect, that it would have been more respectful if I had actually called my parents to ask permission or to give them a little warning. My parents, nevertheless, always laughed and rolled with it. I even told college friends to call my parents if they needed a place to crash on their drive home to the west coast. That happened, and my parents still enjoy telling the story.

I endeavored to have the same hospitality that I witnessed in my parents. I want our home to be a place of welcome, warmth, conversation, and love. I never want visitors to feel like a burden.

Along my life journey I’ve come to realize that hospitality is not a strong suit of my culture. I’ve attended predominantly black churches and received warm welcome that I knew would not be equally reciprocated if they came to my church on Sunday. I grieve this truth.

When I travelled in the middle east I regularly encountered the unbelievable hospitality of Muslims whom I expected to treat me like an enemy. Our daughters have experienced the same in their travels and missions overseas. I will never forget our daughter’s observation that the most Christ-like people she’d encountered were not her missions team, but a Muslim shopkeeper and his wife who invited her to dinner. Once again, we know in our hearts that our foreign hosts would likely not receive an equally hospitable welcome in our community. I grieve this truth.

This morning I’m thinking about my own posture towards hospitality. It’s easy to be hospitable to people of my choosing, with whom I am comfortable. I am reminded of Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan. In Jesus’ estimation, the one who truly loved his neighbor was the one who showed sacrificial hospitality to a perfect stranger in need who didn’t look like him, come from the same community as him, or believe the same things. I confess this morning that if you measure my hospitality by Jesus’ definition, I am found wanting.

Lord, have mercy on me.

I have some work to do.

Chapter-a-Day Hebrews 13

image via Flickr

Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! Hebrews 13:2 (NLT)

While I was in college I took a semester off from school to stay home, work and make a little money. One Sunday I attended a small church in the inner city. I was one of the only white people in the area, let a lone the church. I felt like a grain of salt in a pepper shaker. Yet, as I entered the church I felt a warmth and a love surrounding me.

A woman in the pew behind me leaned up, placed her hand on my shoulder and welcomed me and told me she was so glad I was there. When the congregation stood to pray, another elderly woman who was sitting down the pew from me walked over and took my hand in hers as we prayed. I was hugged and welcomed and loved.

I left church that morning humbled. I knew that if any of those sweet brothers and sisters in Christ had come to my home church that morning, they would not have received anything close to the warm, loving welcome I had received from them.

My eyes were opened that morning and I found myself repenting of my own sinful prejudices, stereotypes, and ignorance. Most of all, I repented for having such a meager and misery heart that always loved those of my choosing on my terms of comfort and propriety.

Some experiences become an important waypoint in our journey; a demarkation point when our path makes a distinct change in course. Since that morning, I have forever paid more attention to strangers walking into my midst and sought to show love the way it was shown to me in a small inner city church many years ago.