Aloha Friday Message – July 15, 2016 – The Rest IN the Story

1629AFC071516 – The Rest IN the Story

Read it online here, please. And please, when you visit there, use one of the social media links at the bottom of the page to share this post. Thank you!

Genesis 18:8-9 And Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and said, “Make ready quickly three measures of choice flour, knead it, and make cakes.” Abraham ran to the herd, and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to the servant, who hastened to prepare it. Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree while they ate.

“Always seek, expect to receive, and accept The Greater Gift.”

Aloha ʻŌmea! Here we are at Friday already, and it is also the middle of JULY! The time keeps flying by, and sometimes we get so tired from all the frenzy in our lives. Our minds and bodies tell us to take a break, to lay back, put our feet up and relax for a bit. For some of us that is hard to do because there is always more to be done, and it’s ours to do. Intellectually, we know that resting is essential to good health, but often we put it off and say, “I can rest later. Right now, I need to do this.” With that mindset before us, I want to talk about some other reasons for taking a break. It starts with the event in this Sunday’s Old Testament reading from Genesis.

TerebinthVisitorsIn this passage from Genesis, Abraham is dozing under a very large oak called a terebinth in a place called Mamre. There were several of the large trees growing nearby. His tent was pitched close by as well and his wife, Sarah, was in the tent. Abraham sees three strangers approaching. He quickly gets up and begs them to stay, to rest, to allow him to wash the feet of one stranger in particular, and to have a little snack before they continue on their journey. We’ll look into that “little snack” shortly. Meanwhile, let’s look into why he was so hospitable

Abraham is following the custom of Hospitality. Welcoming strangers was a big deal in his culture. The greetings, the humility, the bowing, the offers of service, the cleaning of feet, sometimes the anointing with oil, and always an offer of food and rest – all of these were important aspects of hospitality. Abraham, remember, had started out in Ur of the Chaldees, and God chose him to be “the father of many nations.” God revealed himself to Abram as El Shaddai – God Almighty. El Shaddai changed his name from Abram to Abraham, and made an eternal covenant with him. Abraham was a wealthy, important man; yet, when these strangers approached, he humbled himself to be hospitable to them.

He invited them to rest under the shade of the terebinth, he had water brought to wash the feet of the traveler who seemed to be the leader. This was an important custom in the hot and dusty desert and it not only brought comfort but also used a valuable resource – water – for something other than drinking. He asked them to stay only long enough to have some refreshments. That is where we find another characteristic of Hospitality for his culture: Generosity.

He tells Sarah, “Make ready quickly three measures of choice flour.” The “measure” he ordered was called a Seah (say-ah). 1 Seah is about 33 cups US Dry Measure. 3 Seah = one Ephah or about 99 cups US Dry Measure. That is a LOT of rolls! How could anyone believe that three wandering strangers could even make a dent in such a huge pile of bread? To go along with the bread, Abraham ordered that a young, juicy calf be slaughtered and prepared. When all of that was ready, the food was presented to the visitors while Abraham stood to the side and waited on them as they “snacked.” They continued to rest, to eat, perhaps to converse, and when they were finished, the central figure among the visitors asked where Sarah was. Abraham told them she was in the tent. She had been listening at the tent entrance, and heard one of the visitors say, “I will surely return to you in due season, and your wife Sarah shall have a son.” This made Sarah laugh. You can check this out in Genesis 18:9-15. Abraham had met and spoken to El Shaddai many times. Perhaps he recognized that these strangers were divine beings – angels perhaps, or even El Shaddai as a prefiguring of his future human form in Christ. Whatever or whoever they were, Abraham’s hospitality was not wasted on the strangers.

Hospitality is a “two-way street.” It is transactional. You have to have someone who provides it and someone who receives it. The hospitality provider’s goal is to more-than-fully satisfy the guest. The guest’s goal is to accept the hospitality graciously and as completely as possible. That little adage about The Greater Gift is a corollary to “It is better to give than to receive.” You should always, always, always look for opportunities – transactions – where you can be generous and kind. Always take the opportunity to be the giver of gifts. Why? Because that is God’s way. He gives us all that is Good. He expects us to be as generous as he is. We are to give unstintingly, joyfully, and often. But it is also a great blessing to receive someone’s generosity. That is part of God’s plan, too. He gives us all that is good, and it is our choice to accept or refuse the good things he gives us. If we are participants in “God’s Hospitality,” we express our gratitude for his generosity when we graciously accept what he gives us. Thus it is that when God gives us rest, we are doubly-blessed when we receive and accept it.

The psalmist tipped us off to God’s generosity and Providence in this passage from Psalm 111:4-5 He has gained renown by his wonderful deeds;
the Lord is gracious and merciful.
He provides food for those who fear him;
he is ever mindful of his covenant.

God never forgets or breaks a promise; again, he wants us to be like him in that, too. His promises are always generous. Sometimes we have to just (I am talking facetiously now) sit down, shut up, and enjoy the Banquet. In our personal relationships, that could mean taking the time to listen to  our host/hostess. It could mean sharing a meal prepared for us even if it’s not something we would normally eat, or eating with great pleasure if it is something we like or enjoy. Sometimes it might be just sitting together and enjoying being together whether in silence or in conversation. Consider Mary and Elizabeth.

Mary went to the hill country to visit Elizabeth and stayed with her three months. They were both pregnant, they had a lot to talk about. Mary likely helped with the housework and the other chores – cooking, mending, cleaning – and Elizabeth shared with her the wisdom she had gained in her many years of life. This is the hospitality of companionship, and it should also be generously given and graciously received. Later in life, Mary shared the hospitality of companionship with Jesus as he prepared for his ministry, and followed him through that phase of his life as well, finally experiencing with him his passion, crucifixion, death and resurrection, and then the anointing with the Holy Spirit. She graciously received and generously gave in every moment of their lives together. Yet she had to endure a great deal of pain and sorrow as well. It is that patient endurance which makes hospitality a holy gift. It is the patience to wait without expectation for the response of gratitude in return for our generosity. That is tough, yet Jesus helped us to understand what that means in  Luke 8:15 15 But as for that in the good soil, these are the ones who, when they hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance. We hold the goodness of hospitality – here represented by the Gospel, the good seed – in an honest and good heart. That is the source of all hospitality – and honest and good heart. When it comes time for us to give the ultimate in hospitality, we clean up the soiled, stained, dishonest, and selfish areas of our hearts and invite Jesus in. Remember what he said about knocking at the door? Look again: Revelation 3:20 20 Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.

Jesus will receive your hospitality in the same way that the Abraham’s visitors received his. I want to show you two verses from Paul’s letter to the Hebrews..

Hebrews 13:2, 16 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. – 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

In the stories of Abraham and the Visitors, Mary and Elizabeth, and Mary and Jesus, the hospitality was offered and accepted without fuss or distraction. We recently looked at the incident with Martha, Mary, Jesus, and Lazarus. Martha was doing her best to be hospitable, and Jesus was doing his best to accept her hospitality. However, Martha’s sister, Mary, was accepting Jesus’ hospitality, resting at his feet and listening as a good companion should.

Who in your life are companions whose hospitality you can accept? Think about it a moment. I hope you will include El Shaddai Olam in that group of persons. Hospitality includes giving and receiving – for example food. The greatest food of all is the Precious Body and Blood of Jesus in the Eucharist which is The Ultimate Greater Gift. That gift came to us through much suffering and sacrifice, and we would do well to remember that suffering when we express our gratitude by accepting that gift. We should also remember that suffering is also a gift. Paul said in Colossians 1:24 24 I am now rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church. He is stating that he is willing to suffer on behalf of others (as Jesus did) for others are not willing to suffer so that in all Christ is glorified above all. That is what I would call the Highest Hospitality – the generous offering of one’s life for another.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Belovéd!

PRAISE REPORT!

Thank you for your prayers for RC! She reports her surgery was successful and that the tumors removed were noncancerous! She will have a long – 8 weeks or so – but successful recovery from the surgeries, has to deal with some complications from the anesthesia, but is expected to fully recover. Blesséd be God forever!!

Share-A-Prayer:

New prayer request: FC has learned in the past couple of weeks that her breast cancer has returned and metastasized to her brain. She will start Gamma-Knife treatments and other procedures to try to defeat this new spread of cancer. She and her husband R, surely to need the companion hospitality of our prayers as she fights against this disease.

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Creative Commons License
Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Type answer *

Pages Email Newsletter Categories Archives Connect