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Entertaining Angels. 463. July 2, 2023

KEY SCRIPTURE: Hebrews 13:1-2 Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

RELEVANCE I'm not sure if I've shared this in an earlier post, but it shows the love of some strangers.

In the mid-90s, Heather, I, and toddler Niv Jnr went on a much-needed holiday to Tumut, NSW. My prison time wasn't far in the rear-view mirror, and better times were up ahead, but right now, we needed to get away.

Why did we pick Tumut? This one was my choice. My cousin had often holidayed there with her family and sold me the idea. We made the booking for our dodgy old-as-the-hills pop-up van and headed up the Hume.

Five and a half hours later, we pulled into the heavily treed caravan park, set up the van making our towable antique as nice as possible, and sat under our tree with a cuppa while Niv Jnr galloped around the plot.

It was just before Christmas, and Tumut came alive at night with Christmas festivities. Houses were radiant with Christmas lights, reindeers (to help Santa deliver presents), fake Christmas trees illuminated with multi-coloured globes blinking every few seconds, and welcoming householders handing lollies and other food to the cheery passers-by, including us three.

Christmas Eve arrived, and so did my usual holiday obsession to find a local Church to attend. I can't recall if it was Presbyterian or Uniting, but all other churches were closed, so here we visited. And the joy, touching hymns, and broad smiles satisfied us immensely.

They asked us to come along the next day—to the Christmas Day service. Here they excelled a second time. As we were about to leave, the young interim Pastor and his wife invited us to their Christmas lunch high on the hill overlooking the valley of the Tumut township, where we spent hours with them and the house swimming pool over a luscious, well-cooked feed and cool drinks.

Further to this, an elderly couple, regular attendees from the Church, invited us to their home for a special family gathering in a few days.

We are not angels, but that Church entertained us in such a godly way we could easily have thought we were. We're fairly easy to please but had angels been entertained by the members of that Church, I feel they would have been satisfied.

What a memorable lesson we learnt from that small selfless group in Tumut about gracious, godly hospitality. We found a brigade of greeters. Not once did they leave us after the initial greeting. You know, that awkward predicament newcomers are often put in at a new Church—of standing alone because nobody carries out the welcome duties. We didn't experience one of those "Well, what do we do now?" moments. They came to us.

How do you greet newcomers to your Church? Do you leave others to perform the greetings while you chat with your friends? Do you welcome them and then leave them after some small talk? "Hi!. Where are you from?" "Oh, that sounds nice" "Okay, lovely to meet you. We might see you next week, then?"

That's not the love God wants to see from His Church.

Whether before the service or at coffee time, new visitors silently reach out to us to welcome them as we would our best friends. In doing that with passion, we receive God into the Church. If it were Jesus and not an unknown family, we would be all over Him, attending to His every need. We wouldn't let Him out of our company for a second. Yet we feel it's okay to do it to His other servants. This little Church didn't get its priorities out of sync. They did what Jesus would have expected. Welcoming newcomers puts us out a little, but that is only due to our misunderstanding. Those newcomers are more important at this time than our need to mix with our regular bunch. Like this Church, we can bring the newbies into the fellowship circle and spread the love.

PRAYER Dear Lord, I've often been guilty of not focussing on newcomers, despite being one myself at times. It's shameful for me and lets you down, but it also creates an unwelcome feeling for those new attendees. Please prod my conscience if you see me doing it again.

Photo by Frede Langlois


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