When you plan your meals do you make enough extra just in case some one knocks on the door or rings the doorbell just as you’re sitting down to lunch or supper? I wonder how many times that’s happened? How many times have we invited them in to sit down at the table with us?
Most times, if we’re honest with each other, we are a little peeved when the doorbell rings or the phone rings just as we’re getting ready to sit down to eat. Maybe you aren’t but I am. And then, what does Hebrews say to me, “Be ready with a meal or a bed when it's needed. Why, some have extended hospitality to angels without ever knowing it!”
I read that passage and I wonder how many angels have come to me for a meal and I have turned them away. Or I’ve been so grumpy that they chose to walk on down the street. I wonder.
Luke doesn’t make me feel any more comfortable. He tells of the time that Jesus told a parable about being invited to a wedding party and how everyone scrambled to seat themselves at the most prestigious spot at the table. I read that and I wonder how many times I have arrived at a dinner and tried to find a table where I could sit and be noticed. I wonder.
I wonder how many times I have failed to take the least conspicuous seat at the table. How many times have I forgotten the lesson that Jesus is teaching here? I wonder.
How many times have I heard these lessons read, how many times have I read these lessons and failed to heed God’s warning? How many more chances will God give me? I wonder.
I don’t think that I wake up everyday and intend to be exclusive. In fact, I like to think that I’d welcome anyone into my home but the facts are I haven’t. Therefore I’m convicted by these scriptures.
I know it’s not about me. I know that but I haven’t changed. I know that Jesus died and rose again so that I could be forgiven. How many more times is he going to say, “Son, you’re forgiven. Go and sin no more.” If I were God I think I’d be ready to right me off for a lost cause. I’d think, “He’s never going to change.”
Fortunately for me, God is forgiving and he gives me another chance to get it right. So, is today that day I might welcome an angel? Is today the day I will do the right thing? I wonder.
Jeremiah was called by God to prophesy to the people of Israel. They had been just like me. They had forgotten how He had delivered them from the oppression of the Egyptians and led them through the wilderness to the Promised Land flowing with milk and honey. They were seduced by the gods of the countries God helped them to conquer.
Maybe that’s my problem. I’ve been seduced by the things of the world that are all around me. Maybe I don’t want to share them with anyone who comes knocking on my door. I wonder if that’s it.
I know what I should do but every time an opportunity presents itself I do the wrong thing. The angels God sends have to go somewhere else to find their meal. And I’m the one who loses.
Friends, if a stranger walked in here today as we were worshipping how do you think we’d react? What if the stranger who came in was a little scruffy? What if the stranger had a lot of different piercings and tats? How would they be received? I wonder.
I believe that God’s lesson for us today is that we need to take the focus off of us and be more observant to how God is present in and around us in those who come to visit our churches and our homes.
We are called as God’s children to serve others, to love without reservation, without judgment, and care for those whom He sends our way. I, for one, haven’t always done that. And I’ve missed many opportunities to serve our Lord.
Friends, don’t be me. Pay attention to God’s presence in every person you meet. And welcome them wherever you may be because, you never know, they may be angels sent from God.
Thanks be to God for his patient, forgiving, compassionate grace. Amen.