Angels Unawares

Lou Lotz

READ : Genesis 18:1-8

He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing in front of him.

(v. 2)

Travel was dangerous in biblical times, and codes of hospitality were strict. If a
stranger showed up on your doorstep, you were obliged to provide shelter, food, and safe
passage through your land. Hospitality to strangers was woven into the social fabric. When
asked to provide hospitality for a stranger, you didn’t say no, for you knew that maybe
the next time you would be the stranger in need of hospitality.

One component of hospitality is accepting differences. There is a risk in doing that. Sometimes strangers are, well, strange. We wouldn’t necessarily choose them as friends. But hospitality accepts differences. Welcomes them, even. The host doesn’t ask the guest to change; rather, part of being a host is a willingness to be changed by your interaction with the stranger.

Abraham makes no demands of his visitors. He washes their feet. He bids them sit in the shade. He feeds them. Abraham doesn’t know the identity of the visitors. He knows only that they are strangers in need of hospitality, and life has brought them to his doorstep.

Would that we were so hospitable. “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers,” says Hebrews, “for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (13:2).

Would that we were so hospitable. “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers,” says Hebrews, “for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (13:2).

PRAYER

Lord, help me to be more hospitable to strangers. Amen.