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HINC SPES AFFULGET - Hence Hope Shines Forth

Sitting at the back of St. Mary Aldermary Church in London last Saturday, at a meeting of Two:23 Network, my eye was drawn by one of the stained glass windows and a coat of arms that was depicted. It was the coat of arms for The Worshipful Company of Innholders and the motto that I read was HINC SPES AFFULGET meaning "Hence hope shines forth". 

The theme of the meeting was WELCOME. Innholders were also known as hostelers and hospitalers, and were at least in London the fore-runners of the hospitality industry. The strapline of the Innholders' Company is The home of hospitality since 1473.

There is therefore a link between the theme of the meeting and the Innholders Company. A key to great hospitality is to make your guest feel welcome. The industry has made an art of making people feel welcome. But is the welcome that the Industry extends genuine? The more the guest is likely to spend, the greater the welcome that is extended to them. Is this the kind of hospitality we as Christians are called to share?

What does the Bible say about hospitality?
Is the word hospitality appear in the Bible? It most certainly does. It is the translation of the Greek word, φιλοξενίαν (philoxenian) and appears twice in the NT.  It is a compound word, PHILOS (love) + XENOS (stranger). This makes hospitality more than entertaining guests well, but the exact opposite of xenophobia.

Romans 12:13
Share with the Lord's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Hebrews 13:2
Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.

These are by no means the only words on the subject of hospitality, for woven throughout the Bible are verses that make it clear that we are to show hospitality.  Contrary to what is widely taught today, Sodom brought the wrath of God on itself because it was inhospitable (Ezekiel 16:49) Jesus in his teaching made many references to the need for hospitality. The parables of the Sheep and Goats, and of the Good Samaritan spring to mind. In the parable of the sheep and the goats, it was the way people treated "the least of these" that determined whether they were to be regarded as sheep to be saved or goats to be condemned, for Jesus said that their treatment of the "least of these" was their treatment of Him.

The parable of the Good Samaritan shows us that we do not have to be at home to practice hospitality. A Samaritan sets out on a journey. We are not told what the purpose of that journey but we can surmise that it was something important because he was traversing country that would have been decidedly hostile to him as a Samaritan. He was probably in a hurry as he would have probably wanted to reach his destination before nightfall. He might have heard a noise of groaning, or seen a slight movement out of the corner of his eye, or the injured man may have been lying there in plain sight, but the Samaritan notices him and immediately  has compassion for the man in his suffering,  He goes over to the man who had been attacked by robbers, and he sets his own agenda aside and starts attending to the needs of this unfortunate man. We read that two other men had seen the stricken traveller before the Samaritan came across him: men who should really have known better, a priest and a levite, men too full of their own importance to be inconvenienced by this man in great need, and they scurried on their way pretending not to notice him. After relating this rather detailed parable to the rich young ruler, in answer to his question, "Who is my neighbour?", Jesus asked the ruler who it was that was a neighbour to the man who had been attacked. Perhaps because he could not bring himself to utter the word, "Samaritan",  answered "the one who helped him."  The Samaritan showed true hospitality to the unfortunate man on the road to Jericho. He gave unstintingly with no thought of repayment.  I wonder if, when the man thanked the Samaritan, whether the Samaritan replied, "You are welcome?".

Mi casa es  su casa  - my house is your house, goes the Spanish saying. This, to my mind is the epitome of hospitality, letting someone feel at home in your home or, if you are not at home then feel comfortable in your space or presence.

What has hospitality got to do with hope? 
When a person is made genuinely welcome, they feel loved, and accepted and worthy. When a person is excluded or unwelcome, they develop a sense of worthlessness. This is a tragic state of affairs. If you are excluded from anything, or made to feel that you don't really belong, for whatever reason, you may feel hopeless. Thus, when one feels welcomed and appreciated, that sense of hope is restoed and it will indeed shine out.

I suppose the question is why would someone be unwelcome or feel unwelcome in a given circumstance. Well i alluded to one reason earlier, and that is a lack of money and an inability to pay for "services", or in the eyes of hosts, one is not worthy of their hospitality. It may not be an issue of money, but based in some prejudice that the hosts feel they are superior to this person is not welcome. Racism, prejudice against a certain religious group, or disapproval of the 'lifestyle' of the person, such as people who are LGBT, and of whom some people assume they have a certain lifestyle - this is called homophobia and it is totally unacceptable.

Revelation 3:20 

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

Do you want to welcome Jesus into your life? Do you want share with Jesus? Remember He said, Whatever you do the least of these my people, you do for me. Are you ready to share with that person whom you don't consider worthy. Maybe in doing so you eil be sharing with Jesus.


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