Profuse apologies for this coming out so late. There will be yet another e-vo (for this coming week’s texts) coming out later this week.
Have a blessed week. Practice philadelphia and philoxenias.
1 Keep on loving each other as brothers. 2 Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. 3 Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. 4 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. 5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." 6 So we say with confidence, "The LORD is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" 7 Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise--the fruit of lips that confess his name. 16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
Our appointed text for last Sunday from Hebrews begins with two powerful exhortations:
The first says practice “philadelphia” which literally is translated as “love of brother”. We are encouraged to love those in the family. We are encouraged to love those that we know. Sometimes that can be a challenge as we know their wrinkles and their foibles all too well. It is a choice we make. Love seems to be much more of a verb and much less of a feeling in this context. We are exhorted to love those around us. And we know that when we are to love we are to love others as we ourselves want to be loved. May God give us eyes and ears and hearts for opportunities to love those around us well.
The second says to remember to practice “philoxenias” which literally is translated as “love of stranger”. We are encouraged to love those that aren’t in the family yet and who may never get into the family. We are encouraged to love those that we don’t know. Sometimes this can be a challenge as we don’t know if they are friendly or not. We don’t know if they intend us harm or not. We don’t know how best to love them. It is easy to shrink away from the call to love the stranger. Yet, it is a choice we make. Love is certainly much more of a verb than a feeling in this case. We are exhorted to love those who cross our paths. And we know that we are to love deeply and sacrificially. In Matthew 25 Jesus says that in caring for “the least of these” we care for Jesus. Our Hebrews text above talks about entertaining angels unaware of the heavenly exchange. May God give us eyes and ears and hearts for opportunities to love the strangers who cross our paths well.
Our appointed text ends with another powerful exhortation. We are invited to do good and to share with others.
We have all sorts of opportunities to do bad. We take them all too often which is why we are invited and encouraged to return to our baptisms daily in Luther’s small catechism. God’s mercies are new every morning and they help us restore our hearts that we might do good.
We have all sorts of opportunities to hoard. We take them all too often which is why it is good to remember where everything we have comes from and ultimately whose it is. God’s provisions are gracious and abundant. There is nothing we have—not one thin dime, not one breath of air, not one loving relationship, not one stitch of clothing, absolutely nothing—in our possession that did not come from the hand of a gracious and benevolent God. Since God has blessed us so richly we are free to bless others.
God shape us into lovers of people—familiar and strangers. Help us tend to that task well as we might well be tending to angels or our Lord Jesus himself. Help us seize opportunities to do good. Help us share with others. May we do all these things to your glory. And may we be blessed as others and You do them to us as well. Amen.