Stewardship Is An Expression of Hospitality

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Hebrews 13:1-2

This week Tuskawilla’s Stewardship Chairperson will be sharing a message entitled “Angels Among Us” based on Hebrews 13:1-2.  When I read this text the word that instantly grabs my attention is hospitality and when I reminisce on hospitality the image that immediately comes to mind is my grandparents’ dining room table.

Like many families – when the extended family was all gathered at my Nonnie and Gramps’ house there was a kids table and an adults table.  The kids either ate on the porch or in the nook while the adults gathered around the dining room table.  At first I thought this was because adults deserved a fancier dining venue…and while that is true…it is also true that my grandparents’ dining room table was surrounded by countless priceless breakables.  Breakables and young feisty grandchildren do.not.mix.  So to the nook or the porch the grandchildren went.

Like many families – the kids ate first.  Our parents fixed our plates so they could ration out the mashed potatoes.  Once we were sitting at the table gobbling away our dinner they would fix their plates and retreat to the dining room.

A consequence of the kids eating first…is that we were always done eating first…and our parents were no where near done eating.  Who wanted to stay at a table when all of the food was gone?  I sure didn’t and neither did my cousins.  So one by one we would devise ways to enter the dining room.  “Mom, I have a question.”  “Dad, can you tie my shoe?”  “Hey, what are you eating?  I didn’t get any of that.”  And one by one each grandchild would find a seat at the dining room table – sharing a chair, sitting on a lap, leaning against a shoulder.  We never had to squeeze.  We never had to struggle for a place. There was always room at the table.

This image of my grandparents’ dining room table is one of the reasons Andrew and I built our dining room table to seat up 16 people.  I wanted this cherished memory to be my lived reality each time our family gathers around the table.

Showing hospitality – extending the table in whatever form the table takes – is a way of “letting mutual love continue.”  How we extend the table is a matter of our stewardship.  The table could be a handshake, a hot meal, a conversation, a letter, an errand, a commitment.  Extending the table places the needs of a neighbor before the needs of self.  How and at what rate we extend the table is an expression of our stewardship.

Our attitude towards hospitality and stewardship may change depending on who we are serving.  If we are serving a regular Joe on the street…ehhh…no big deal.  If we are serving an angel, well then we are putting on the Ritz!  This should not be!  We should serve everyone as if we are serving an angel.  This does not mean the service needs to be ostentatious; rather, the service should be intentional, and compassionate, and contextual to the person being served, and in the name of our Lord. Jesus takes stewardship one further.  Serve others not as if you are serving angels; serve others as if you are serving Christ himself.  “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me” (Mt 25:37-40).

In another parable Jesus teaches about the Kingdom of God being like a table where everyone – everyone – will find room and be a guest.  Jesus stewarded hospitality to one and all – to the angels and most especially to the average Joes.  Jesus stewarded for us.  How, when, and what will we steward for others?

Prayer: “Christ, from whom all blessings flow, perfecting the saints below, hear us, who thy nature share, who thy mystic body are.  Move and actuate and guide, diverse gifts to each divide; placed according to thy will, let us all our work fulfill; never from thy service move, needful to each other prove; use the grace on each bestowed, tempered by the art of God.”* Amen.

*”Christ, from Whom All Blessings Flow,” The United Methodist Hymnal, 550.

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