Not everyone may have had the happy experience of the person who said, "Hospitality I have found as universal as the face of man;" but that individual is rare whose heart has not been warmed by the friendly welcome of some cheerful household or wayside inn, for the practice of providing for the stranger, the sick or distressed, as well as for the friend, is as old as the race itself. One has only to turn to the Bible to find many instances which show that hospitality was considered a personal duty and privilege long before its spirit was embodied in the Mosaic law. A very pleasing illustration of this custom is recalled in the hospitality which Abraham showed to the three strangers who appeared at noonday before his tent door while he sojourned in the plain of Mamre. Recognizing his guests as angels or messengers sent from God, Abraham went out to meet them and hastened to provide rest and a suitable repast for them. After these heavenly visitors had delivered their message they departed, and it is said that Abraham went with them to "bring them on the way;" this, also, was considered a mark of cordial hospitality.

Many since Abraham's time have entertained those whom they have felt were messengers sent from God. In "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" (p. 298) Mrs. Eddy explains that angels are not "etherealized human beings, evolving animal qualities in their wings; but they are celestial visitants, flying on spiritual, not material, pinions. Angels are pure thoughts from God, winged with Truth and Love, no matter what their individualism may be." Thus it is possible for everyone, whatever his material surroundings may appear to be, to be hospitable and to entertain these "pure thoughts from God" in whatsoever form they may come. What good cheer these heavenly thought-visitors may bring to the consciousness or home where everything seems to have gone wrong! How they light up the dark days and fill the lonely hours with inspiration! What kind deeds may go forth from one who is given to receiving and welcoming these pure and generous ideas, which continually are being sent out from the source of all good! True hospitality, in a measure, discerns the bountifulness of God's loving-kindness and expresses it in kindly human ways; it feels a Christlike compassion for the sick and the sinning, the stranger and the friendless, and longs to heal and comfort; it rejoices in every opportunity of expressing gratitude to God for benefits received, through service to His children. Knowing that a friendly regard for the well-being of others is best manifested in individual ways, Paul admonished the early Christians at Rome to be "given to hospitality." This apparently did not mean the fulfilling of a social obligation alone, but having the habit of sharing one's home comforts, or such means as one had, with others, especially with those seemingly less fortunate.

To the door of one thus "given to hospitality" there came one day a young man who asked to mow the lawn. When told that the gardener attended to the lawn he looked very much disappointed and was about to turn away when the kind-hearted woman who had come to the door discerned his need and asked, "Are you hungry?" Receiving an affirmative answer, she opened the door to a cool, pleasant veranda, invited the stranger to come in, and gave him a comfortable chair at a table. Then this woman saw that her unknown visitor needed warm, nourishing food, which she hastened to prepare for him. "It all has been so wonderful to me," the grateful young man said upon leaving. "This rest in your lovely home, the good warm food, and your kindness, I shall never forget;" and with light step and smiling face he went forth to continue his quest for work. "I felt," said this woman, in relating the incident, "as if I had received some heavenly visitor into my home; the lad was so thankful and so happy over that simple act of hospitality that a burden I had been carrying for a long time was lifted from me like the vanishing of a heavy cloud in the sunshine. I, too, was made happy, and a sweet benediction seemed to rest upon my home." Through her kindly service to one in need this woman, unconsciously perhaps, had opened the door of the kingdom of heaven and had entered into the joy spoken of by the Master in one of his parables, in which he said, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

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Faith in God
September 3, 1927

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