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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, July 22, 2019              

Today’s Scripture Reading | Genesis 18:1–10       

The Lord appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day. He looked up and saw three men standing near him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent entrance to meet them, and bowed down to the ground. He said, “My lord, if I find favor with you, do not pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. Let me bring a little bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on—since you have come to your servant.” So they said, “Do as you have said.” And Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and said, “Make ready quickly three measures of choice flour, knead it, and make cakes.” Abraham ran to the herd, and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to the servant, who hastened to prepare it. Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree while they ate.

They said to him, “Where is your wife Sarah?” And he said, “There, in the tent.” Then one said, “I will surely return to you in due season, and your wife Sarah shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent entrance behind him. (NRSV)

I love this story about God showing up for Abraham. I like it because of the way God shows up. Abraham is just sitting under a tree outside of the entrance of his tent on a very hot day and three men show up. Somehow Abraham knows that these three men are God. Or that God is appearing to him through these three seemingly ordinary men.

The Old Testament is filled with stories of God appearing, but often on a mountaintop or out of a cloud or in a pillar of fire. This time is different. I like the surprise of it. And I like the fact that Abraham knew instantly the magnitude and awe of what was happening.

When God shows up in our lives in ways that don’t make sense to the rational world, it would be wonderful if we responded as Abraham did. Abraham’s response was unadulterated hospitality. He offered to wash the men’s feet with a little water, scarce as water must have been. He offered to bring bread to refresh the men. He ran into the tent and got Sarah involved too. And he ran to get a calf. It was abundant hospitality offered to God without any knowledge of what God would do in return, if anything.

How do you offer hospitality to (or make space for) God when God shows up in your life? Maybe when God comes to you in a dream. Or perhaps when God comes to you in the amazing grace of a friend at a difficult time. How do you welcome that experience, or give it credence, or cherish it, or spend time with it? How do you lavish God with welcome? I think that old phrase “Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest” gets at our need to be hospitable to the God who shows up in our lives in surprising ways.

Gracious and surprising God, make us mindful of our need to welcome you and to lavish you with abundant hospitality. Amen.

Written by Judith L. Watt, Associate Pastor for Pastoral Care

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