From the official material prepared by the World Council of Churches and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
Genesis 18:1-8, Let me bring a little bread, that you may refresh yourselves.
Psalm 146, He who gives justice to the oppressed and gives food to the hungry.
Romans 14:17-19, Pursue what makes for peace and mutual edification.
Luke 24:41-48, Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures.
Today, electronic communication has made us neighbors in one small and overloaded planet. As in the time of Luke, many peoples and communities have had to leave their homes, wandering and journeying to strange lands. People of the world’s great faiths have arrived bringing new beliefs and cultures to our communities.
In the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity we recognize in our shared journey towards unity the hospitality and companionship of Christians of all churches. Christ also calls us to both offer and to receive the hospitality of the stranger who has become our neighbor. Surely, if we cannot see Christ in the other, then we cannot see Christ at all.
The story in Genesis describes how Abraham receives God in opening his house and offering hospitality to strangers. The God of all creation also stands with the prisoner, the blind, the stranger. Our psalm is an offering of praise for God’s everlasting faithfulness and all that God has done for us.
The text from Romans reminds us that the kingdom of God comes about through justice and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
The resurrected Christ brings his disciples together, eats with them and they recognize him again. He reminds them of what the scriptures said about him and explains what they did not understand before. Thus, he frees them from their doubts and fears and sends them out to become witnesses of these things. In creating this space for encounter with him he enables them to receive his peace, that implies justice for the oppressed, care for the hungry and the mutual up-building as the gifts of the new world of the resurrection. Christians throughout history have found the risen Lord as they have served others and been served by others in faith, so we too can encounter Christ when we share our lives and our gifts.
God of love, You have shown us your hospitality in Christ. We acknowledge that through sharing our gifts with all, we meet you. Give us the grace that we may become one on our journey together and recognize you in one another. In welcoming the stranger in your name may we become witnesses to your hospitality and your justice. Amen.
To what extent is the country in which you live hospitable to the stranger?
How in your own neighborhood can the stranger find hospitality and a space to live?
How might you show gratitude for those who have shown you hospitality by being available?
How does the cross show us that God’s hospitality is a hospitality lived out in total self-giving?