“ ‘When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God. Leviticus 19:33-34 NIV
Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.
Hebrews 13:2 NIV
Today we scaled the heights of Masada (Herod’s Northern palace and the site of the last stronghold of Jewish rebels in 74AD), stopped at Wadi Kelt overlooking the ancient Jericho Road (the same one Jesus talked about in a certain parable – we got to sing “On the Jericho Road” while there…AMAZING!!), road camels and enjoyed the Bedouin hospitality at Genesisland and sung a Christmas Carol beside the manger in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
As has been true of each day on this trip, it was a day packed with amazing moments. We arrived at Masada as the first group of the day and got to do our tour with almost no one else around. We had a beautiful musical moment at Wadi Kelt. We had an emotional and beautiful time at the Church of the Nativity.
But the thing that blew me away was Genesisland. It sounds like a kitschy tourist trap. But it is actually the Old Testament version of Nazareth Village. Instead of a working farm using the methods that would have been used in Jesus’ day, this was an experience of Bedouin hospitality as it would have been in the time of Abraham.
After riding camels (real, live, honking CAMELS!!!) lead by the servant Eliezer, out to Abraham’s tent, we were warmly welcomed by Abraham, who poured refreshing water on our hands and invited us to recline at tables in the tent. After telling us about his life, Abraham called for us to be served lunch. We ate chicken and kebabs, salads and pitas, and drank lemonade.
Abraham took the time to explain how important hospitality is to him and his people. That in a desert place a lack of hospitality could mean death for the traveller. He made the point that it also means a slow spiritual death for the one who chooses not to offer the hospitality. For a lack of sharing makes the heart grow cold.
He thanked us for traveling such a long way to allow him to do the mitzvah (good deed) of hospitality. And asked that we think of all that we enjoyed today the next time we have the opportunity to extend hospitality to a stranger, and take the opportunity to share with them as he had shared with us.
Abraham said he wasn’t a preacher, but he did a good job of summarizing what Jesus would have to say about hospitality, as far as I was concerned. He spoke with passion, inspiring us as we listened to live lives of kindness and generosity. Is this not the call of Jesus to every believer?
As we sang today overlooking Wadi Kelt: “to be a neighbor, the master said (on the Jericho Road), is to show compassion as that man did, for even faith without works is dead (on the Jericho Road, on the Jericho Road)”
May you experience beautiful hospitality and may you be the one who gets to practice the mitzvah of hospitality towards others. Both are deep blessings in their own right.
Masada – perfect day to explore this amazing place and hear the stories.
Luke reading the parable of the Good Samaritan at Wadi Kelt, over looking the ancient Jericho Road.
Riding a camel with Luke on our way to Abraham’s tent. It was terrifying and fun all at the same time!
The wonderful spread Abraham had for us – this was just he first course!
Abraham himself – a wonderful host, speaker and story teller.
Riding a camel with my Dad on the way back from lunch. Dad was a trooper getting up there with me. Fulfilled one of my dreams for this trip!