Saturday, July 19, 2008

Genesis 18:6-8 -- "Hospitality cont."

Genesis 18:6-8: So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah, and said, “Quickly, prepare three measures of fine flour, knead it, and make bread cakes.” Abraham also ran to the herd, and took a tender and choice calf, and gave it to the servant; and he hurried to prepare it. And he took curds and milk and the calf which he had prepared, and placed it before them; and he was standing by them under the tree as they ate.

We have no record of Abraham’s actual inner thoughts, reaction or feelings in response to the agreement of his guests to stay a while and take him up on his offer. We do know that sometimes people offer things just to be polite and secretly hope that the offer is not accepted. Coming from a European background, expected to be hospitable by society, I have often extended an invitation at the spur of the moment relying heavily on the great probability that the offer would not be accepted. I am usually right. My wife on the other hand will not play those games. She argues if you really do not want people to accept, do not offer. I suppose some people, like Chrysogon, are free of ‘desired appearances’ and some of us are still bound by them. As I get older, I do feel freer to follow my wife’s approach. I think, however, that God would have us be both hospitable and sincere. Nevertheless, in Abraham’s case, all we know is that he acted right away to please his guests and deliver the goods he promised in his offer. So, like a good, or perhaps, wise husband, Abraham hurried into the tent and engaged Sarah in helping him.
She would take care of the baking. Abraham himself selected the young calf that was to become the steaks for their guests. He gave up the opportunity to be recorded as the world’s first ‘backyard griller’ however when he asked his servant to prepare the meat. Once cooked, all the food was presented to the guests by the host himself and with great respect to them, he stood as they ate.

At one of SCA International’s (the Mission I have the privilege of serving), I remember my wife and I being hosted for dinner by two of our missionary families that originated from Fiji. The ladies, after working very hard to prepare an incredible meal, proceeded to stand by the table serving us, their families, and at least one other couple. It was not until we had finished eating, that they decided to have something themselves in the kitchen. I tried unsuccessfully to object. I was simply informed this was their custom and it had to be that way. At his advanced age, Abraham simply stood by as his guests ate.

Perhaps one lesson for us from these verses is to learn the importance of hospitality and serving others, including perfect strangers, and hopefully with true sincerity. If God brings them to us, He wants us to engage with them and to offer whatever we can in accordance with His blessing of us.

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