Over the past few years the challenge of hospitality and welcome for refugees eeing war and persecution has once again confronted wealthy Western countries. Countries in
Western Europe, North America, and even Australia have been divided in their response to those who have arrived on our shores eeing persecution. Sadly, many of us, even many Chris- tians, have failed in our calling to provide welcome to those who have sought sanctuary. Under the cloak of national and economic security, we have let fear and self-interest dominate our actions and our words.
The Genesis account of promised blessing to Sarah and Abraham provides a helpful reminder to all people of faith about the blessing that arises from generous hospitality. As the strangers arrive at the camp, Abraham and Sarah engage busily in all the normal matters of welcome—food, water to wash up, and a place to rest. They engage in hospitality not begrudgingly but, instead, with a spirit of abundance that can only arise from a deep sense that meeting a stranger is, in itself, a blessing. Meeting a stranger is not a time for fear but a time for gratitude.
The promise of new life that comes later is not a matter of quid pro quo—it is neither a payment nor a reward for hospitality. Rather, it is blessing that comes unsought and unearned—as faithfulness and welcome create a space where generosity and blessing over ow. In this encounter, like so many others in the stories of Abraham and Sarah, risk leads to blessing. The strangers, the ones our natural instincts tell us to fear, actually bear God’s promise. Across the ages the Israelites returned to this story to af rm and con rm an identity rooted in radical and generous hospitality. As Christians we do well to remember this heritage—especially when people need shelter and welcome.
Loving God, may your love and faithfulness inspire us to gen- erosity and graceful welcome. Amen.
Two threads run through all the readings. One is the claim that God is powerful over all things. Psalm 116 makes this claim most eloquently with its assertion that God “has heard my voice and my supplications.” The story of the promise of Isaac’s birth demonstrates that it is God and God alone who gives life. Matthew situates the call of the disciples within the larger context of Jesus’ mission and understands their work to be the consequence of God’s decision to send workers. Paul emphasizes God’s power by recalling that God’s act of reconciliation comes within the setting of human alien- ation and hostility. The second thread is that of the unworthiness of those whom God chooses.
• Read Genesis 18:1-15; 21:1-7. When has God presented you with a laughable opportunity? What incredible offer would you like God to propose to you today?
• Read Psalm 100. How do you create a future of hope by recalling God’s faithful action on your behalf in the past?
• Read Romans 5:1-8. When have you looked for a superhero in a crisis situation? Who came to your aid?
• Read Matthew 9:35–10:23. What field of harvest is God calling you to? Do you yearn for wheat rather than potatoes? How do you go about an attitude adjustment?
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