Entertaining Angels Unaware
Whilst recently walking to Santiago de Compostela (the traditional burial place of St James the Great, one of the twelve apostles) I did not come across many English speakers. I was totally dependent on the few Spanish pleasantries I had learnt, my phrase book and most importantly of all the patient kindness of the locals. The hostel owners where I stayed nearly always offered to ring on ahead, so I had somewhere booked far the following night. In the food shops the staff willingly offered to turn the bread, cheese and cold meat into packed sandwiches. When I wasn’t sure of the way passers by always halted to point me in the right direction and from other pilgrims I heard of people offering them water and fruit on hot days.
The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews stresses how we should ‘not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.’ (Hebrews 13:2) I am an Anglican, not an angel, but I was certainly grateful for the kindness I received in a foreign country.
Jesus was heavily dependent on the kindness and welcome He received to perform His ministry. Without the kindness of the many people who fed Him, housed Him and encouraged Him things would have been very different.
We need to make sure that strangers feel welcome in our churches too. Sometimes a visitor wants to be left alone and we need to be sensitive to that, but it is a dreadful if somebody feels totally ignored in a building full of people. One comes to church to worship Almighty God, but I am always encouraged when somebody tells me that they settled at Catsfield or Crowhurst, because they felt wanted, valued and remembered on their next visit.
Posted By: valerie