Radical (a.k.a. Ordinary Christian) Hospitality

A sermon by Michael Pahl on September 1, 2019, called “Radical (a.k.a. Ordinary Christian Hospitality,” reflecting on Luke 14:1, 7-14 and Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16.

Here is a written excerpt:

You see the importance of this kind of hospitality early in the Bible. In Genesis 18 Abraham and Sarah welcome the three visitors by the oaks of Mamre. They invite these strangers to share their shade in the heat of the day, to wash their feet and quench their thirst and eat the choicest food. It turns out these visitors are angels of the Lord, come to Abraham and Sarah as the very person of God.

This is likely the story our passage from Hebrews is referring to when it says that by showing hospitality to strangers “some have entertained angels without knowing it.”

This kind of generous, welcoming hospitality even of strangers demonstrates Abraham and Sarah’s righteousness.

In stark contrast, when two of these same visitors show up in Sodom that same evening, Sodom’s sin is revealed as hostility to these messengers of God, an unwillingness to welcome the stranger and provide for the needy in their midst, even a willingness to do violence to the stranger and violate the needy. Both Ezekiel and Jesus identify the sin of Sodom as this very thing (Ezek 16:49; Luke 10:12).

This thread runs right through the Bible, this thread of generous, welcoming hospitality. It’s there in the Law of Moses, that Israel is to welcome the stranger and be generous to the poor (e.g. Deut 10:17-19). It’s found in the Prophets, calling on Israel to care for the alien, the orphan, and the widow in their midst (e.g. Jer 22:3). It’s found in the early church, as when Peter receives the hospitality of the Gentile Cornelius and learns that no one is unclean or profane in God’s eyes (Acts 10:28).

All through the Bible we find the same message taught and lived out by Jesus: welcome the stranger, especially the stranger in need, with open-hearted, open-handed hospitality.

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