Summary: Showing hospitality to strangers may become a gift to us.

Hebrews 13:2

The Stranger is the Gift

I. Stranger in Midst

A. Friend – some years ago

B. Sunday worship service, church like ours

C. Service begun – member of congregation began worship, no pastor yet

D. Man dressed shabbily in a heavy overcoat and wild hair and who could of used a bath came into service

1. Trouble finding a seat, pretty packed toward back – is that like this church

2. Finally a member, a prominent business man in the community offered to help the man

3. He asked him to sit with him and family

a. got him a bulletin

b. found a hymnal for him

c. helped him find place in bulletin

E. Of course the congregation was murmuring about man

1. some where heard to say, “Doesn’t he know how to dress for church?”

2. Others sitting close by holding their noses

3. Parents were trying to stop their children from staring and giggling

F. The businessman had to help man stand when the hymn began, the man did not sing

G. The congregation was getting nervous because the pastor was still not present and soon it would be time for the sermon, the member leading

worship was sweating,No scripture was even listed in the bulletin

H. Think how you would be feeling if Pastor Ed or myself were not present for worship –

Maybe it would be answer to your prayers for a short sermon

I. Anyways, back to friend’s church

1. When it came time for the scripture and sermon, the stranger stood up and said, “The Lord wants me to tell you something today.”

2. Heads jerked, several started to say something

J. The stranger walked to front of the church and started unbutton his coat.

1. There was gleaming white road underneath that old tattered coat

2. Then the man pulled off his long unkempt wig.

K. It was my friend – their pastor

L. And he said, “The word from the Lord today is this ‘Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.”

1. He called for the last hymn and sat down, leaving the coat and wig in the middle of the floor.

2. I don’t if that ever changed that congregation but certainly made them think

II. Scripture – Hebrews & Genesis

A. Seriously, the author of Hebrews is giving a series of exhortations, that is instructions

B. The author is making points before the book concludes

C. He expects members of the Christian community “to show hospitality to strangers” – People that are not family or friends

D. This exhortation reminds of the story about Abraham welcoming strangers

into his camp

1. Let me remind you of this story

2. Abraham is resting by his tent

3. He sees several strangers approaching his camp

4. He hurries to them and bows to them and says “My lord, if I find favor with you, do not pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought…let me bring a little bread.

5. He does not know who they are, he does not check his larder to see if there is enough

6. He simply welcomes them and is hospitable to them

E. Abraham was open to them and to God in that act

F. The messengers of God, the angels, brought him and Sarah a message

G. A message that changed their lives forever

1. Baby - Isaac

H. Sometimes our lives are changed when we are welcoming of strangers

I. Let me tell you a story about hospitality

III. 9 / 11

A. Let me tell you about a whole town that epitomized this scripture

B.. Gander, Canada

1. population 9,600

2. smack dab in the middle of Newfoundland

3. Canada’s eastern most province along the Atlantic

4. it had a community center, an aviation museum, 4 city parks, and the Gander Mall

5. average town for most of history

C. That is until September 11, 2001.

D. That day 52 trans-Atlantic flights were redirected to the Gander International Airport

E. Many passengers spent that night on their planes

F. The next morning a convoy of buses took the passengers to the terminal

1. People were told to relax and the would be notified when their flights would be redirected

2. That call came 2 days later

G. This is what I am to tell you about – those 2 days

H. This community and surrounding area showed great hospitality to strangers

1. All the high schools in the area, meeting halls, lodges, churches became places to house people

a. some had cots, some had mats with sleeping bags and pillows

2. All elderly passengers were given no choice – they stayed in private homes

3. Families were kept together

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