Monday, January 9, 2012

New Year’s Resolution: Entertain Angels

If you don’t have your New Year’s resolutions nailed down yet, can I suggest one more?  Keep your eyes open to new possibilities.  Let me spin you a yarn…

As I’ve said elsewhere, my dad was a carpenter and he had a wry sense of humor.  Those two attributes came together in the Summer of ’69 when dad was doing some work on the new sanctuary of University Baptist Church in Fairbanks.  This picture shows Dad and some other men scuttling around the sanctuary.  As in most churches the “business end” of the sanctuary is a platform raised on top of the main floor.  This was Dad’s project on the day I joined him as his carpenter’s helper.  Mid-afternoon, Dad called me over just as he was putting the final piece of plywood on the raised deck .  With a benignly-wicked smile scratched across his face, he pointed down to the sub-floor.  More on my nutty dad after a word from our Sponsor:
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. (Hebrews 13:2)
Do you need more motivation than that to show kindness to all people?  I would hate to think I snubbed an angel (who then reported to HQ!).  I’m not sure what the writer of Hebrews had in mind, but the downstream application is quite clear… followers of Jesus should not pick and choose who we show kindness to.  Followers of Jesus should consider all people as created in the image of God and we should do whatever is in our power to bless others.  That is part of the calling “Follow Me”.

happy to have my family
join me at my childhood church
In June 2009, I was privileged to take my family back to Alaska.  On June 21, the longest “day” of the year, my family joined me at University Baptist Church where my spiritual foundations were laid and where I occasionally helped my dad, the carpenter.  I asked for permission to say a brief word to the congregation.  I stepped up on the platform my dad had built – exactly 40 years earlier, probably to the day.  I thanked the congregation for their dedication to the Lord’s work and I told them I had been called into ministry myself.  Four decades earlier, none of those dear people had any idea that the knucklehead kid of Carl and Ruth’s would become a pastor.  (In fact, they probably would have doubted it seriously.)  Then I stepped over to the far right side of the stage and stomped my foot.  I told the congregation of the day my dad pointed to the sub-floor before sealing the upper decking.  Carl A Smith, in his own inimitable way had written with his broad carpenter’s pencil, “What are you looking down here for?”  He then took a plank of plywood and sealed the message away for posterity. 

For four decades no one but Dad and I knew that message was down there.  The same is true of the people that cross our paths every day – we don’t know what untold story is written on their hearts.  We don’t know what need they have that must be met and we don’t know what gift they have which will bless others richly.  We don’t know.  But God does and He calls followers of Jesus to “join Him in what He is doing”.  In my last post, Emily Kemak’s brother had no idea that seventy years later some knucklehead in Kansas would be retelling his good deed, quietly done between brother and sister.  He displayed his kindness because it was the right thing to do.  As you make your way into the new year, won’t you add “be kind to strangers” to your list of virtues you want to nurture.  I can’t promise you that people will be singing your praises when the new century dawns, but you never know.  That’s the point, isn’t it?  You never know.  I promise to be good for goodness sake.

Clark H Smith

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