Third Thursday of Advent: Shared Refreshment

By Peter Ndaita

Advent Devotional | December 19, 2019

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. 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.

He said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by. Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. Let 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.” 

—Genesis 18:1-5 (Read Genesis 18)

It was my first birthday far away from home. I woke up early, logged into Facebook, and lo and behold—they were there. Messages from family and friends back home in Kenya. 

I poured milk over cereal, placed the phone on the table, and continued to scroll. Breakfast took longer than usual that morning! I could have stared at the phone all day, but it was time to go, so I rinsed the bowl and headed off to seminary classes. 

Throughout the day, I kept glancing at my phone, hoping for more messages. My heart rejoiced every time I saw one. 

I’m fully convinced that everyone finds the day of his or her birth to be a big deal, and I am no exception. 

On this particular birthday, I was also new to the States, so I knew I would have to my celebrate on my own. I was ready to head off to a solo birthday dinner when David called. 

“Happy birthday, Peter,” he said. He remembered! 

I met David on the first weekend of seminary. We became friends, and he had even convinced me to try my hand at the guitar. And now—completely unbeknownst to me—he and three other students had planned a birthday treat. 

We kicked off the celebrations with a Korean BBQ dinner, which was a new experience for me. Then we had sumptuous desserts before heading out to a bowling alley. Although I barely hit the pins (I think it had something to do with the shoes), I had one of my most memorable birthdays.

These four men sacrificed an evening that could have been spent studying Greek, crafting an email or text to a potential partner, or just resting. They sacrificed to celebrate with me!

Every time I reminisce about that night, I am reminded that hospitality is a courageous invitation to others to be refreshed by the gifts that God has bestowed on us. 

It calls for humility, a willingness to extend and also receive care. 

In Genesis 18, Abraham enthusiastically offers his resources to refresh his guests. He says, “Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree.” His enthusiasm would have amounted to nothing if his offer of food and rest was denied. But they responded, “Do as you have said,” accepting Abraham’s hospitality.

However, Abraham’s hospitality was more than a mere act of preparing food. His generosity is an outward act of a heart filled with gratitude.

The Lord has dealt kindly with Abraham. He is the bearer of God’s promise of redemption. It is to Abraham that God said, “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing… In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed (Genesis 12:1-3).” Abraham has indeed seen the salvation of God,  and through him, God will bring about the salvation of many. 

Abraham gives out of what he received, and his hospitality is commended by God in Hebrews 13:2 as one of the summum bonum of the Christian faith.

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. 

We ought to emulate him. In Christ, we have been given the greatest gift heaven can offer. As beneficiaries of this gift, let us give liberally, knowing that all we are and have is from God. 

As we open our homes and lives to strangers, let us remember that we were once strangers, but now we are children of God in Christ. 

We can never give more than what we have in Christ Jesus.

—Peter Ndaita, CCO Campus Ministry Staff at Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania

—Jamie Donne, CCO Associate Director of the Fellowship Program