A stranger showed up one day at the church office, before this pandemic. He wanted to talk to the pastor. But this time it was different. Hundreds of strangers show up at church office doors wanting to talk to the pastor. Basically they all want help, as in money. It’s not hard to get cynical and skeptical. I have had to get philosophical over the years. I’ve decided that begging for money is a full-time job for some. Many times I have seen “shift change” at an area street corner where one person with the “Anything Helps” sign is replaced by another with the “Will Work for Food” sign. Going church door to church door is another full-time job for some. Discerning the true need from the really good story is not as easy as it sounds. I have found that the people who get angry and chew me out are the scammers. Most people in deep need are slightly embarrassed, not manipulative.
The man at the office door wanted two things—a chance to listen and a chance to pray. Listen to what? Listen to God and listen to the pastor. I took him to a pew where he asked me to sit near by. I kept a respectable distance. He silently stared at the Good Shepherd window for a few minutes. Then he turned to me and asked me to talk to him. Thinking he wanted a counseling session, I tried to find his need. “No,” he said, “Tell me about your walk with God.” Okay. So I began to tell my faith story, my call to the ministry and my daily spiritual “routine.” We came to a stopping point and he told me “thank you.” Then he offered to pray for me, a sweet and genuine prayer. He said goodbye and a thank you once more. It reminded me that not all strangers at the church door want food and money.
That passage about Christian hospitality near the end of Hebrews encourages us to “entertain strangers,” outsiders, because they just might be angels. A stranger may have unwelcome motives, or they may be someone sent to bless your life. The only way to know the difference is to engage them in a conversation, and pray.
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Be friendly to all the angels. And let’s experience the love and power of God together while we are apart.