GENESIS 18: TAKING YOUR SEAT AT THE TABLE
18 The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. 2 Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground. 3 He said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by. 4 Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. 5 Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant.” “Very well,” they answered, “do as you say.” 6 So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. “Quick,” he said, “get three seahs of the finest flour and knead it and bake some bread.” 7 Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it. 8 He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree. (Gen. 18:1-8 NIV)
For centuries this scene has been a favorite one for Jews and Christians–three guests invited to rest under the oaks of Mamre, refreshed by a man of God, Abraham. Abraham brings curds, bread, milk and meat to welcome these guests. And, it turns out, these guests are no mere mortals. Two of the “men” turn out to be angels (19:1), while the third is the Lord himself (18:22). In showing hospitality to these three, Abraham was entertaining the Lord.
For some in the early church, this scene became iconic. It symbolized the true nature of hospitality, especially God’s hospitality. In the fifteenth century a now famous Russian painter named Andrei Rublev created a now renowned masterpiece from this scene. Only he pictured the three guests at Abraham’s generous feast as the Father, the Son and the Spirit. And, just as they had received Abraham’s cordiality, so they now invited all to receive their hospitality. Abraham’s table became the Trinity’s table. Father, Son and Spirit invited all to come and find a place at their table of love.
Beneath the Trinity’s table is a small rectangle. Richard Rohr reports that some historians believe there was originally a small mirror affixed to the icon there. As you gazed at the icon, you saw one more seated at the table–yourself! We are invited to share in the joyful communion of Father, Son and Spirit! You have a place at their table.
Father, thank you for inviting me to sit at your table. Give me the courage to accept your invitation, to believe that I belong. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Invite someone to your table this week who seems disconnected and lonely. Invite that person to eat a meal with you and some of your friends or family members.
Chris is a spiritual director, the author of seven books, a father to Jordan and Jacob, a husband to Kendra, and has preached for the Highland Church of Christ since 1998.