4 November 2017

Hebrews 13:1-21

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (v. 2)

Psalm: Psalm 116


The Christian way of life can be very demanding, but isn't always as exciting as some enthusiasts would have us believe. Yes, we never know what is around the next corner when we follow in the steps of Jesus, but so much of our time will be taken up with the everyday activities of life - work, or looking for work, school, home, families, eating, sleeping, shopping, paying bills, feeling tired, tetchy or depressed, following interests and hobbies, or attending meetings.

These daily routines can become so automatic that we fail to see how much they can be used as part of our faith journey, especially when it comes to meeting others and sharing our experience with them. How can we find the time to "show hospitality to strangers" (or 'entertain' according to the NIV) when our lives are so busy that we never seem to get a moment to ourselves?

'Entertaining' in this setting doesn't mean putting on a lavish dinner, or getting out the best china: it means being hospitable, friendly, approachable and willing to listen and share. We can all do that, even if some find it more difficult than others. But if you have ever come away from a chance encounter feeling so much better for having met and talked, then you may have entertained that angel already. So:

If an angel appeared on the doorstep
with white robe, feathered wings and shining gold halo,
the chances are we might be so intrigued, or impressed, or unbelieving,
that we would welcome this vision and offer hospitality
to give ourselves the chance to judge the authenticity of the appearance.
   But an angel in overalls,
   or looking down-at-heel, or appearing to be in need of help,
   or comfort, or a listening ear, or a meal, or time, or money,
   or looking tired, or lonely,
   or even just seeming to be insignificant, or uninteresting - what then?
Would the welcome be as warm,
or open, or generous, or even curious?
   Or would caution overwhelm conscience;
   self-interest lead to indifference;
   personal priorities take preference
   and cause us to miss the chance
   of entertaining that elusive angel unawares?

To Ponder

  • How do you feel when you are challenged to move outside your comfort zone in your faith?
  • Who are the people who have made an unexpected difference in your life - and how?

Bible notes author

Marjorie Dobson

Marjorie Dobson is a local preacher and a writer of hymns, prayers, poetry and short dramatic pieces for use in worship. She particularly enjoys writing character pieces - 'getting under the skin of the real person that hides in the shadows of a good story'.