You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. (Lev. 19:34)
The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer through prayer, penance, and repentance of sins, almsgiving, atonement, and self-denial. Its institutional purpose is heightened in the annual commemoration of Holy Week, marking the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. I have written several devotions over the past nine years on various subjects, including prayer. I would describe myself as a passionate Pentecostal; a progressive—looking to see what God is going to do in our postmodern world, but I also like to reflect back on some of the old practices to see if we can gain insight and depth to our Christian life.
I was re-reading a book by Dorothy C. Bass called Practicing Faith. The book tells the story of a Priest arriving in Israel, it’s Friday evening just as everything was shutting down for Sabbath. With no public transport, he sets out to walk the fifteen miles to his destination. Not far down the road, a family invites him in to spend Sabbath with them; they offer him a meal and a bed. Appreciative of their hospitality, on Sunday, he continues his journey.
I remember as a child in London’s East-end going into a neighbor’s house and being invited to stay for lunch or dinner. During the summer months, there were no doors closed; people would sit outside their homes, play with the children, talk, and share.
In our world, today there is a crisis of hospitality that can be seen in our attitude towards homelessness, refugees, and immigration. The problem goes even deeper when even our relatives and friends don’t come anymore to sit around the table, yet in Acts, we read that the early church, “continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, (Act 2:46 NIV) In many homes today, even families are too busy to sit down together and talk and eat a meal together, why there’s football practice, dance practice, baseball, and the list goes on. Jesus says, “Look! I’m standing at the door and knocking. If any hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to be with them and will have dinner with them, and they will have dinner with me. (Rev 3:20 CEB) This day, I’m talking to me, but is my prayer life a reflection of the way I live life in general. “Who is that knocking at my door, don’t they know I’m busy.”