Readings: Genesis 18: 1-15, 21: 1-7, Psalm 116: 1-2, 12-19, Mark 9: 14-29
We sometimes think that we need to wear the right clothes, attend the right church or use the right words before God will allow us into His presence and before He will hear us but the story of Abraham and Sarah is such a beautiful story of how God doesn’t wait for us to be right before we meet with Him because then we will never meet with Him. God meets with us whenever our hearts are open to meeting with Him; no gilded invitation or dress code required.
God comes to meet with Abraham in his home, while he is chilling at the entrance of his tent because it is too hot to be working in the field and too humid to be inside the tent. He is probably not smelling the freshest or looking his best, but his heart is open to God and to others.
For all of Abraham’s character flaws, he was very hospitable and very open to receiving God and others. They obviously didn’t get many visitors or people wandering around and a person’s reputation in the Middle East was connected to their hospitality and so at the expense of his dignity, he opens his home to these travellers. Abraham hurries to greet them, hurries to tell Sarah to take an excessive amount of flour and make bread, runs to his fields to get the perfect calf and have it prepared. Old men and masters of their household didn’t run, they didn’t show their ankles to the world. Everybody runs to them, everybody hurries to them, but here is Abraham hurrying because God forbid, they should think him inhospitable. For him, that would bring great shame on his name for the nations surrounding him.
Hurrying to the 3 strangers, he invites them in and he does it because it was the right thing to do, in fact it would become one of the laws given to them in the time of Moses (Leviticus 19:33-34) that would speak of who the people of God are meant to be. Welcome the stranger and do them no wrong. Treat them as one of you and love them as yourself because you were also strangers in the land of Egypt. Your heart will be more open to “the other” when you remember that you were also “the other” to someone else. Your heart would be more open to the imperfect when you remember that you are imperfect yourself.
As you read the story of Abraham from Genesis 12:1 – 25:18, it is phenomenal how much Abraham suffers from the human condition, yet even in that God chooses him. I wonder if this open heart is the reason God chose Abraham even though Abraham was as fallible as he was and even though he didn’t understand God or God’s ways at all. I wonder if God chose Abraham because he loved God and his heart was open to friendship with God and his heart was open to others. I think that it is this characteristic of God that God longs to see formed in us. Strive more to be open to God than to be right. Strive more to welcome the stranger in your midst than to be powerful. Strive more to develop community than to build walls. Welcome the stranger amongst you because God did not create us and them; God created us.