The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. 2Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.
3He said, “If I have found favour in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by. 4Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. 5Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant.”
“Very well,” they answered, “do as you say.”
6So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. “Quick,” he said, “get three seahs of the finest flour and knead it and bake some bread.”
7Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it. 8He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree.
9“Where is your wife Sarah?” they asked him.
“There, in the tent,” he said.
10Then one of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.”
Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him.
This month’s theme is “Welcome All”. Living a welcoming life is important. It is what we do as followers of Christ. It makes people feel cared for. It makes them feel connected. It makes them feel special and fills them with warmth. We ourselves know what it’s like to be welcomed. Welcoming others should be our lifestyle.
Abraham, the father of our faith, lived the life of welcoming others. We see it in today’s passage.
Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.Genesis 18:2
Abraham didn’t just let the three men pass by. He “hurried” to meet them. He didn’t have to. This was the part of the day when people rested from their work. But he still welcomed them.
Abraham treated the three men like they were special guests. He didn’t do the bare minimum. Look at what he does right after he gets them settled in.
So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. “Quick,” he said, “get three seahs of the finest flour and knead it and bake some bread.”
Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to the servant, who hurried to prepare it.Genesis 18:6, 7
Abraham went ABOVE and BEYOND. He chose the “finest” flour to bake the bread. He picked a “tender” calf as his choice of meat. A calf usually fed dozens of people. He prepared the very BEST of what he had. He prepared more than what was expected.
Abraham’s dedication is admirable. In whatever we do, we should have this kind of attitude. No matter what it is, always going above and beyond. Not cutting corners and doing the bare minimum. But giving the very best of what we can. That is what serving looks like.
I went out for lunch this week. There were two people working at the store. They went above and beyond in their customer service. One of them even asked how the meal was after I finished eating.
Welcoming is not necessarily the things we do. It is not so much “what” we do for the other person. Welcoming has more to do with “how” we do what we do. The heart with which we welcome others is more important than what we do for them. If our heart is in the right place, what we do will follow.
Abraham was a rich man. He could’ve given what he had to the guests, no problem. But it wasn’t what he gave that blessed the guests. It was his welcoming heart that blessed the guests. Every moment, he gave them his complete attention.
He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree.Genesis 18:8
Abraham could’ve just left them alone. He could’ve sat at the head of the table. Instead, he stood by them. He made sure that they had everything they needed and were enjoying their stay.
When we give others our complete attention, we welcome them. There is nothing more powerful and moving than that. It’s priceless. People know when we are distracted or attentive to them. They sense it. A simple “hello” said with attentiveness can make a big difference in someone’s day.
Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.Simone Weil
When we welcome others with attentive hearts, we bless them. We empower them. We brighten their lives. More importantly, we bless God who made them in his image. Abraham recognized God’s presence in the three men. Jesus taught us that clearly through a parable—
Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go visit you?’
The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’Matthew 25:37-40
We are celebrating communion today. Why do we celebrate communion each month? Jesus welcomes us to his table. He reminds us that we are not strangers to him. In giving the bread and the wine, he gives us himself. Completely and selflessly. Just as Abraham strengthened the three men for their journey, Jesus refreshes us for our journey ahead.
Welcome those around you as God welcomed you. Welcoming life is a beautiful life. I pray that Hi-C will always be a welcoming community. Our Execs even worked hard on Friday to create a welcoming space downstairs.
Be attentive and present. Don’t focus so much on your own needs. Focus on the needs of others. God will take care of your needs. Today’s passage ends with a good news from one of the three men.
I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.Genesis 1:8-10
Abraham and Sarah were old and childless. The man didn’t tell Abraham this because of what Abraham did. This was a promise that God had already made to Abraham long ago. The man simply reminded Abraham (and Sarah) that the blessing they had been waiting for was well on its way.
You are already blessed. Let your welcoming heart be a blessing to others.