Entertaining angels unawares

A poem for the 12th Sunday after Pentecost.

Photo by Gene Jeter on Unsplash

Hebrews 13:1–8, 15–16

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers,
For thereby some have entertained angels unawares.*
Oh, how poetic is that older English line,
Which speaks to such a modern need, with such a flair.

What angels now arrive at border crossing points—
Who in our ignorance, we harshly turn away?
Remember Abraham and Sarah, hosting those
Who gave them hope, and with their message, saved the day?

Why are some so afraid of shared humanity,
And think that someone different cannot be a gift?
And think, above all costs, we have to hold our own,
As if a mark of human faithfulness is thrift?

No. Faithfulness means looking out not for yourself,
Not grabbing everything you can, and damn the rest;
So trust the giving flair of God, who made all things,
Whose bounty means: to fear you need not acquiesce.

(*RSV, and mostly the KJV, vs. 2. The NRSV has Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.)