Years ago when Elliott was just a baby and my wife and I were early in our marriage we had one of many conversations about what we wanted for our kids. It’s highly possible that this particular conversation stemmed from watching a Sunny Delight commercial- but the gist was that we wanted to be “that house”. We wanted to be the neighborhood hang-out. We wanted our house to be the place where kids could feel comfortable coming, playing ball in the back yard, video games in the den, and drinking Sunny Delight from the container out of the fridge. Well, maybe not the last part. About six months ago I came home from the office to find Sarah completely frazzled. In addition to our four children there were five to six other kids ranging in ages from 4-11 running in and out of the house, a tackle football game going on in the back yard, Sarah was trying to cook dinner, and there was even a sweet dog who felt right at home following the dirty boys and girls in across the carpet and into the kitchen where everyone wanted something savory to drink. Sorry Sunny Delight, water is on tap for our afternoon house guests. For some reason in that moment I caught Sarah, pulled her close, and reminded her, “this is what we prayed for”. This is a regular occurrence at our home nowadays, and my wife is an exemplary model of servanthood and hospitality.
With a few parting instructions in chapter 13 the author of Hebrews encourages his Jewish Christian audience to, “Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” I once heard a recounting of that verse by a child who thought we needed to entertain angels in their underwear- but I digress. Theologians and commentators, as well as average Bible readers have poured over and debated this verse for centuries. What does entertaining angels mean? Do angels condescend disguised as normal folks as a test to see if they can get a cup of cold water from followers of Christ? Likely the author is harkening back to Abraham who hosted a trio of angels to a fine feast of roasted lamb, but I’m sure the point is not for us to look for angels in disguise. Rather, we are to show welcome and hospitality to all as the opportunity presents.
Do you have people in your life that don’t know strangers? No matter where they go they find themselves completely comfortable addressing the crowd or the strangers around them. Sarah is like this. My friends Kyle, and Kevin M. and former pastor Mark all fit this mold easily. For them it seems to come easy. For me not so much. But just like all the gifts of the Spirit, some have it in abundance and others pray for it earnestly. Whatever the case, the encouragement to “not neglect” hospitality to strangers is for us all. And so for us practically I encourage you to give it a try. Take notes from your friends that don’t know strangers and step out of your comfort zones this week. And if a large group of children or teenagers come tromping into your house after a game of muddy football, be sure to have some Sunny Delight on hand.