040316 – Unexpected Guests

In this first of four series on hospitality and the church, we begin by exploring two stories of hospitality in Genesis. First, Abraham and Sarah welcome three strangers under the shade of the oak trees of Mamre. Their welcome is marked by extravagance, which underscores the seen/not seen identity of the visitors. In the second story, Abraham’s nephew Lot welcomes two of the visitors into his home, only to have the men of the city violently attempt to break the ancient world’s code of hospitality.
These biblical stories remind us that in the stranger we encounter divine presence. The extending of hospitality is much more than “terminal niceness” (Letty Russell); it is an integral part of the spiritual practice of community building.

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