Thursday of Pentecost 12 – Hebrews 13:1-17

1 Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say,

“The Lord is my helper;
    I will not fear;
what can man do to me?”

Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them. 10 We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. 11 For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. 12 So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. 13 Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. 14 For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. 15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

I don’t remember quite how old I was, but I must have been about 8 years old. My father had a decrepit VW beetle which he loved to drive but under which he spent as much time as in it just to keep the car running. It was forever breaking down. For reasons which I have never known, my mother named it Tilly. One day, we were driving through a small town in Nebraska, I think, and suddenly Tilly just stopped. Some small but vital component was not working. We were used to the drill. We piled out the car. My father ascertained what had broken this time and soon was off in search of a parts store or a mechanic to exact a repair. Meanwhile, we sought shade from the brutal summer sun.

We found a bit of shade not far from the car, in front of a modest home. We sat and waited, but soon the front door of the house opened, and an elderly woman came out, carefully balancing a tray, filled with glasses and a pitcher of lemonade. She had seen us and taken pity upon us. Bringing us something to make our wait a little less odious.

The writer to the Hebrews encourages us to show hospitality. He even offers up that some who have done so have entertained angels without knowing it. I can still see her wrinkled face and the smile she had for us as she shared that lemonade with us. She sat on a chair and talked to us for a while that afternoon. Soon my father had the car running and we were on our way, at least for a while. She did not entertain angels that day, but sometimes I wonder if she wasn’t one.

We live in a day when such acts of hospitality are more difficult. The man or woman beside the road in my city may well be struggling with an addiction or worse. I want to help them, but a few dollars will probably only buy them another hit of heroin or methamphetamine. My act of charity may in fact be harming them. Christians have a call to help the vulnerable and needy. Jesus Himself did so and He lives in us today. But we need His Spirit to guide and help us. Pray that we can do good and share what we have (vs. 16) in such a way that we please God.

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