Holy Hospitality - 2 Kings 4:8
April 8, 2024, 8:49 AM

“One day Elisha went to Shunem. And a well-to-do woman was there, who urged him to stay for a meal. So whenever he came by, he stopped there to eat.”

It is not uncommon for someone to feel alone in the midst of large groups of people. One boy went to Sunday school for his first time in a new church and his parents asked him how he liked it. He said, "I hated it. They put me in a roomful of children all by myself."

Adults too, when they attend a new worship service or a new church can feel the church is a place for friendship and fellowship, but it can be place of polite ignoring and unintentional loneliness.

In one article Anne Williman told her story as an outsider. After marriage to Jon she was sure she would be happy anywhere with him. They moved to a little northwestern Ohio hometown. However, she felt unwelcomed. Being shy, she didn't say much. Neighbors walked by without a word. They seemed to stare as though she was some unwelcomed intruder. A newcomer to a small community knows what it means to feel like an outsider. People did not speak to her if she didn't take the initiative, and even if they did it was cordial but not a feeling of really wanting to make a friend.

For reasons unrelated, she sought to make a call on her next-door neighbor, 93 years old Mrs. Watson who would look at her with piercing eyes from her window in disapproval. As she walked up to the house and rang the doorbell, she thought “Maybe she's napping. I can creep away.” Then her tiny figure appeared. "Why it’s you-Jon's wife. I was wondering when you'd call. Do step in. I'm so glad you finally came by. I know how hard it is to meet your neighbors sometimes. I had that problem when I first married. I've lived her some 60 years now."

As Anne was encouraged to meet other neighbors, she did find that it took effort, however once the initial contact was made she found other outsiders like herself. All were happy to visit. One married woman confessed. "I thought you didn't like us. But I guess I can understand how you feel. I married someone from this town eight years ago and I'm still afraid people think me strange somehow.”

Anne prayed for a gift of outgoingness to help overcome her shyness. She also began a hospitality ministry to newcomers to the small town. She sees it as a ministry to those who need a friend.

As we look at another passage in the life of Elisha, he was shown hospitality as a bachelor in the service of the Lord. The lady who showed him kindness was an example of holy hospitality. We can learn how in giving we also receive.

Application: Do you make newcomers feel welcome? How have people made you feel welcome?

Prayer:   Lord, teach me to better practice the gift of hospitality.