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FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH IN DOWNTOWN WILMINGTON NC
  • Writer's pictureDr. Jim Baldwin

Hunkered Down Homilies – Visitors

A woman and three young girls sitting on a blanket having a picnic.

One sunny afternoon this week, ENan and I set out for a walk around the neighborhood.  As we turned from our driveway onto the road, we noticed a gathering at the corner of our yard.  Next to our Flamingo Little Library, three neighborhood girls had spread out a blanket and were preparing a tea party for their stuffed animals.  Observing that they didn’t actually have tea (or any other refreshments), ENan offered to prepare snacks for the girls and their “stuffies”.  The girls were ecstatic when we returned with granola bites and M&Ms.  (Apparently “stuffies” love M&Ms.)


The opportunity to show a little hospitality reminded me of the Bible story of Abraham’s unexpected guests.  Abraham was sitting at the entrance to his tent when he looked up and saw three men standing nearby.  Abraham immediately offered to bring them water to wash their feet and then brought them food to eat.  As the men were eating, one of them spoke up, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.”  Sarah (who was pushing 90 years old) was eavesdropping from the tent, and when she heard this news, she fell on the floor laughing. 


Don’t go jumping to conclusions and imagine this homily is a Baldwin family birth announcement.  Laughter is not the first emotion ENan would experience if she discovered she were pregnant at this stage in life.  The point I want to make from Abraham’s story is that, on occasion, visitors are more than they appear.  Upon a closer reading of Genesis 18, you see that the three men are speaking, then the next verse reads, “Then the Lord said to Abraham.” (verse 13)  Were the three men actually the Trinity sitting on the ground outside of Abraham’s tent?


The writer of Hebrews recognized the significance of hospitality: “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2)  Sometimes a dinner party is just that – a fun evening around a good meal.  Once in a while, however, God shows up in a surprising way, opening your life to an entirely new perspective.  All it takes is an open heart and an open mind.


And maybe a bag of M&Ms.


Dr. Jim Baldwin



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