Going Deeper 7-16-2019

The first lesson for Pentecost 6...
Genesis 18:1-10a   The Lord appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day.  He looked up and saw three men standing near him.  When he saw them, he ran from the tent entrance to meet them, and bowed down to the ground.  He said, "My lord, if I find favor with you, do not pass by your servant.  Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree.  Let me bring a little bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on—since you have come to your servant."  So they said, "Do as you have said."  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.  They said to him, "Where is your wife Sarah?"  And he said, "There, in the tent."  Then one said, "I will surely return to you in due season, and your wife Sarah shall have a son."

This is one of the earliest texts in which God is revealed as Triune.  "The Lord appeared to Abraham...  He looked up and saw three men."  The singular "Lord" appears as "three men."   

Yet what I find most important about this story is the hospitality of Abraham to the Lord.  Yes, this reflects the importance given to hospitality in that part of history in that part of the world.  But I believe it also serves as an example for us.

There are different ways we might receive the presence of the Lord into our lives.  He doesn't come and sit at our table... at least not in a physical presence... except for Sunday mornings in the sacrament.  But I do believe the Lord is present with us at all times.  The question is: do we seek to prepare a place for Him?  Do we take time to receive Him?

Prayer, the sacrament, and the reading of the written word are ways that we can receive the Lord and experience His presence most profoundly.  Jesus also promised that "whenever two or three" gather in His name, He is present.  

There are those who want to interpret this text (and most of the Scriptures) as demonstrating a transactional relationship with God.  Abraham and Sarah prove to be hospitable and give 'gifts' to the Lord, and then the Lord reciprocates by blessing them with the gift of a long-awaited child.  We act, God reacts.  But this backward way of understanding our relationship with God has led to a whole lot of misunderstanding.

God acts, we react.  God blesses us with His gracious presence.  We express our love through worship, hospitality, and service.  The Lord comes to us and we receive and dwell in His presence.  God gives unmerited gifts, and we receive with gratitude.  We pray, "Come, Lord Jesus..." and we prepare a place for Him in our hearts.

With You in Him,

Mark Gabbert, Pastor
Zion Lutheran Church
Wellington, Colorado

"No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care."