Wednesday, 16 November 2011

The Hospitality of God

There is a word that has been rumbling around in me for the last few months. It is a word that really embodies some of the thoughts and practices that have been surfacing in my life for many years. It is the word “hospitality.”

It is not that this is a new word for me, I had just not paid any attention to it. But right now, it is all I see as I read the Bible.

One of the more significant encounters I have had recently was in the Psalms. There is a part in Psalm 23 that reads:
“You prepare a table before me
   in the presence of my enemies.”

This passage has really caught me off guard. The Almighty, Prince of Peace, Alpha and Omega, God of the Universe has set a table and invited me to sit at it with Him. God as Host. The picture of this scene that I have in mind is that I have been fighting with my enemies on this epic, medieval battlefield, and we have been at each other ferociously. I am scraped and bruised and bloodied, and my opponents are once again rallying to overcome me. All of a sudden, God has arrived. His presence alone has stunned us, the battlers. He does not engage the battle, He hasn’t even noticed that it was happening as far as I can tell. He speaks a table with terrific food and drink into that place, and in a whimsical almost oblivious fashion invites me to sit and dine.

The reason He has not been alarmed by my enemies presence is that to Him they are of no concern. In His presence they hold no intimidation or power, in fact, in the glorious light of His presence they are but wisps of smoke. I can be completely at ease because of His hospitality.

God as Host has brought His table to my situation. Wherever He is, He is Host.  

A similar instance of hospitality plays out in the Gospel of Luke. On the road to Emmaus, two travelers have an encounter with the risen Jesus. They find themselves being comforted by this stranger as they travel and once they arrive at their destination for the evening, they persuade their traveling companion to stay and eat with them. Gathered around the table, Jesus takes the bread, an action of host, and breaks it and shares with them. The two are instantly aware of who’s presence they have been in and hurry back to Jerusalem, encouraged and in wonder.

Their enemies (confusion, doubt, disillusionment) are vanquished in an instance as they find rest for their souls at the table of the Lord.

Are there situations that are causing us to fear, or be anxious? Feelings that are warring inside of us? Sit with this picture of God as Host. Accept His invitation to be a guest at His table.

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