REFLECTION FOR THE WEEK
“Hospitality is the hall mark of a Christian”
“I know that this man who often comes our way is a holy man of God. Let’s make a small room on the roof and put on it a bed and a table, a chair and a lamp for him. Then he can stay there whenever he comes to us” – 2 Kings 4:9-10.
Hospitality, is defined as the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors and strangers.
So, hospitality is about people welcoming other people into their homes or other places where they work or spend their time. Hospitality is all about the art of entertaining or receiving guests. For example, when someone is known for their generosity, kindness, helpfulness, warmth, welcome and friendliness, they are often said to be hospitable.
The story of Elisha and the Shunammite woman recorded in 2 Kings Chapter 4 verses 1-37, stressed the greatness of hospitality that is shown to envoys, representatives and ambassadors of God, those who are bearers of God’s word.
If we look deeply at that story, there is also, another kind of hospitality that is stressed again and again in the Bible, and that is hospitality to the stranger.
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me. I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” (Matthew 25:35-36)
This text describes acts of hospitality, of mercy that we who has been so richly blessed by God can do everyday. These acts do not depend on wealth, ability or intelligence. They are simply acts freely given and freely received. And, let me say this, nobody should have any excuse to neglect those who have deep needs. The St. Olave’s Church, “Bread For Life Project” has over 8 years fed 150 homeless people every Monday night with jollof rice, chicken, tea and coffee in central London. And, by the grace of God we have been able to sustain and keep it going, through the hospitality, generosity, sacrifice and commitment of men and women who devote their time and resources to support the project. As human beings and Christians, we cannot abdicate, handover or leave acts of hospitality to other people or institutions. Jesus demands yours and mine, involvement in caring for other’s need.
And, this is emphasised in Isaiah Chapter 58 verse 7, “Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”
God says he wants our service to go beyond our own personal growth to acts of kindness, charity and generosity. Now, you can see that hospitality is the hallmark of a Christian.
Hospitality is a beautiful thing, and despite the fact that we live in an age of guards, locks, bolts, chains, peep holes, alarm systems, dogs and so on, there is more need than ever for hospitality and friendliness. We see all around us a lot of loneliness, lots of strangers and displaced people.
Beloved, hospitality to a friend is no big deal, even unbelievables do the same, there are no risks involved but the possibility that the favour will be reciprocated and returned. But, hospitality to a stranger is a great thing and there is a risk involved.
Nevertheless, Christ calls us to welcome the strangers in our midst. You see, to be hospitable does not mean making them like us, but it means accepting them as they are, because they will be able to shed their strangeness, and become members of the community.
Beloved, the call of Christ to us is to reach out. And, when we do, the rewards are great.
“I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you do for God” – (Matthew 25:40).
God is not like us, he sees everything and he rewards.
When Jesus says in Matthew Chapter 10 verse 42, “And, if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward”
This trivial act of kindness, of hospitality, like giving a cup of cold water, would not go unrewarded in heaven.
What the Shunammite woman did, preparing a room for Elisha to use whenever he was in town, was done out of kindness and because he sensed a need, not for any selfish motives. Soon, her kindness was rewarded beyond her wildest dreams.
My sisters and brothers, I challenge you to be sensitive to those who pass by your home and flow through your life.
Remember, as followers of Christ that hospitality is not an optional extra. It is at the very heart of the Gospel, because to welcome the stranger is to welcome Christ himself.
I pray that the Lord will help you open your heart so that you can begin to live. May you be known for your generosity to the poor and your hospitality to the stranger. May you be sensitive to the sufferings of those around you. I pray that the reward that comes from serving God and doing His will, will be your portion.
Have a rewarding week.
Venerable Prebendary Tunde Roberts