Lenten Devotion: Hospitality

“Abraham and the Three Angels,” James Jacques Joseph Tissot (c. 1896-1902)

“Abraham and the Three Angels,” James Jacques Joseph Tissot (c. 1896-1902)

God appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day. He looked up and saw three men standing near him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent entrance to meet them, and bowed down to the ground. He said, “My lord, if I find favor with you, do not pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. Let me bring a little bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on – since you have come to your servant.” So they said, “Do as you have said.” Genesis 18:1-5

Abraham did not know that God was appearing to him in the form of three men, so that is not the reason he lavished such attention on them. The custom – so strong that it was virtually an unwritten law – was to provide unquestioning hospitality to strangers and travelers. In a time when there were no inns, hotels, restaurants, rest stops, or any other travel convenience, it was incumbent upon everyone in the Near East to look out for one another. And when Abraham traveled, he no doubt relied on the hospitality of others.

God appears to us in every face we see every day of our lives. God appears to us in the needy as well as the rich, in the sick as well as the healthy, in the broken as well as the whole. When we remember this, we are more likely to treat every person with the respect and love that a child of God deserves.

Larry Broding examines how Abraham welcomed God.

God, may I treat every person I encounter today as if they were you. May I respect them, revere them and love them. Amen.

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