7: July ~ Blessing of Visitors and Guests

Summer is a time of vacations and visitors, when people travel to see relatives and friends. Hospitality is a cornerstone of rural life, a trademark of these summer days. This hospitality can become a cornerstone of rural spirituality as well.

This blessing prompts us to greet God in the people who come to see us, to proclaim their visits a blessing to us, and to recognize that our homes and farms are indeed holy places where God can be encountered.

This blessing works well when visitors are preparing to depart. Everyone gathers in the yard or a large room. The visitors are asked to stand together, and the family host members encircle them for the blessing rite.

 

Opening Prayer

O God, you have made us your guests in this world, the earth you created for all. We remember how you sent your angels to Abraham and Sarah to be received as guests. By their hospitality, Abraham and Sarah received a message of hope and life.

Bless us and out hospitality. May our guests be a blessing to us and reveal your presence to us. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Song of Praise: Psalm 87:1-7

Response: Blessed be these angels, the messengers of God’s love.

 

The Lord loves the city founded on holy mountains,

Glorious things are said of you, O city of God!

Response: Blessed be these angels, the messengers of God’s love.

 

From Babylon and Egypt I count among those who know me.

And of Zion it will be said: “They all were born here.”

The Most High confirms this.

Response: Blessed be these angels, the messengers of God’s love.

 

The Lord notes in the register of the peoples:

“This one was born here.”

So singers and dancers: “All my springs are in you.

Within you is my true home.”

Response: Blessed be these angels, the messengers of God’s love.

 

Reading: Genesis 18:1-10

Abraham’s Visitors

The LORD appeared to Abraham by the oak of Mamre, as he sat in the entrance of his tent, while the day was growing hot. Looking up, he saw three men standing near him.

When he saw them, he ran from the entrance of the tent to greet them; and bowing to the ground, he said: “Sir, if it please you, do not go on past your servant. Let some water be brought, that you may bathe your feet, and then rest under the tree.

Now that you have come to your servant, let me bring you a little food, that you may refresh yourselves; and afterward you may go on your way.”

“Very well,” they replied, “do as you have said.”

Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah and said, “Quick, three measures of bran flour! Knead it and make bread.” He ran to the herd, picked out a tender, choice calf, and gave it to a servant, who quickly prepared it.

Then he got some curds and milk, as well as the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them, waiting on them under the tree while they ate.

“Where is your wife Sarah?” they asked him. “There in the tent,” he replied. One of them said, “I will return to you about this time next year, and Sarah will then have a son.”

 

Selective Readings from Scripture

Hebrews 13:2

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

 

Hebrews 13:16

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

 

Leviticus 19:34

You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

 

Isaiah 58:7

Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house? When you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?

 

Matthew 10:40,42

Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. … And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.

 

Luke 14:12-14

He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”

 

Romans 15:4-7

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

 

Quiet Reflection, or people may share their thoughts.

 

Closing Blessing

(Family members extend their hands in blessing over the guests.)

O wondrous God, you are never far away. Again and again, you reveal your presence among us. Look with favor on our guests, who during their stay with us have opened our eyes to the mystery of your love and grace. Like our ancestors in the bible, we have received these guests through the fellowship of table: food, drink stories and sharing.

Through them we have participated in the companionship which mirrors the relationship between you and your people. As Abraham and Sarah were visited by your angels, we too have felt your presence through our guests.

Bless these holy pilgrims with safety in their travels, wonderful adventures in your good world, warm welcome from all they meet and a happy return home when that time comes. May all they touch witness the wonder of your presence.

Bless us, O Lord of Hosts, for you became a guest to reveal the truth of your faithful love. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.