Today’s Word from Pastor Jim. ..
“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2
Do you believe in angels? Or do you think that they are simply a sign of an overactive imagination? Would you recognize an angel if you saw one? Are there thin places in the world or in our lives where angels are more likely to appear? Is it possible for dear loved ones who are gone to come back and visit those who labor still on planet earth?
There have been times in my life when I have felt the presence of angels. Those experiences are few and far between, they are never predictable, and cannot be controlled. Angels do not work for us, or appear on demand. Angels work for a higher power, and they have a very specific job description. They are primarily messengers from God, and the message is always the same: Do Not Be Afraid.
Their appearance is unpredictable, and yet they most often arrive in very particular moments; moments when the separation between this world and the next is blurred, moments of danger, in the final hours of a human life, in the agonizing labor and delivery of a baby, or as the journey between two worlds unfolds before us.
Our text reminds us, too, that they can be found in moments of extravagant, unexpected, grace-filled hospitality. In the midst of the Great Depression, my grandparents were sharecroppers on an Illinois farm. They owned no home, the ground that they tilled was not theirs, the long hours of labor was their share in hoped-for harvest. They were not paid unless there was a crop, and then they received a small share of the profits; the majority of the money went to the owner of the farm.
By most any measure, my grandparents were poor, but decades later my Grandma Lindus told me that she always made extra food just in case a hungry drifter happened to knock on the kitchen door. Did my grandmother entertain angels unaware? She would never know, not in this life anyway.
I believe in angels. I have heard your stories, stories that you would not tell in public out of fear of being labeled some kind of a religious nut. I won’t try to explain the movement and motivations of angel appearances for you, it is better to just leave that to God. Some mysteries just need to be appreciated for what they are.
I believe in angels, and we have a new angel at Trinity Lutheran Church. She arrived on May 7th as a gift to us. Trinity member Sharon Eickhoff was inspired in this season of isolation to express her faith by carving an angel for her church family. The angel will forever harken back to this time of contagion. She will bear witness to hope, to God’s presence with us, to the many ways that ordinary people have shared love and hospitality with friends and strangers in a time of disruption. She rests outside our sanctuary, a messenger from God, a visual reminder that we are not alone, and we need not be afraid.
Thank you, Sharon! Your angel will inspire me every day.
We are one day closer to the end of this crisis.
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