Read: Hebrews 13:1–19

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:2

We teach our children to fear strangers. Don’t talk to or entertain unfamiliar people. If we don’t know someone, we feel it is best to steer clear of an encounter. In fact, if someone we don’t know smiles at us as we pass them on the street, we might be tempted to wonder what is wrong with them. Even eye contact with strangers is not considered a prudent way to navigate through life. Can it be any surprise that angels so seldom appear in our world when strangers are not welcome in our lives?

Some may scoff at the notion of angels in disguise, as if it is nothing less than another fanciful religious notion. But whatever you might make of the implied connection between strangers and angels, the message is clear that strangers can serve as a blessing to us. When showing hospitality to someone, we often think we are the ones offering the gift. But somehow, when we extend ourselves to others, particularly those for whom we have little or no expectations—strangers perhaps—we find the encounter to be enlivening, hopeful, and spirited. The time we give is returned to us in joy experienced. And somehow, what we feel we have given is outweighed by what we sense we have gained. What a shame to be unaware of an experience like that!

When was the last time you extended yourself to someone you didn’t know?

Lord, what must we miss because of that which we fear! How many angels have I passed on the street with my head down and my eyes averted? Have I taught my own children to behave in ways that prevent divine encounters? Give me courage to welcome strangers as if they are angels sent by You. In Jesus’ name, I pray. AMEN.