First Words

First Words

“Let mutual love continue” Heb 13:1

One summer, while preparing to depart on a canoe trip, our family participated in a devotion called, First Word. Each morning guests were invited to walk in silence through the woods, across a bridge and to the outdoor chapel. When everyone had gathered, the silence was broken by the reading of scripture. The thought being, the first word you would hear that day would be the Word. Then we were asked to use these first scripture words to guide our day.

I was thinking about this experience when I began my devotion this morning. My first words today were, “Let mutual love continue.” It’s the opening to one of my favorite passages in scripture. “Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing so, some have entertained angels without realizing it.” For most of my life, these words have provided a wonderful guide for doing ministry. Yet, today, I am hard pressed to see where mutual love is taking place.

There is no mutual love taking place on a national scale in this country. For most people, mutual love would not accurately describe their work place or their social life. It may not even describe their homes. Would anyone describe school systems as a source of mutual love?  I’m hard pressed to see where mutual love is thriving in my own life. It leads me to ask the question, how can something continue when it is not taking place?

If you find this to be true in your life, then perhaps, you should consider the power of hospitality. Hospitality is about considering the life you cannot understand. It’s about discovering the source of frustration in the person  who is strange to you. Understanding leads to empathy. Empathy opens the door to love. This process never takes flight until you welcome the stranger into your life. Consider inviting the stranger into your life today. You may find yourself entertaining an angel.

Click to read: Hebrews 13: 1-8

Reflection Questions:

  • Where do you find mutual love taking place in your life?
  • Where would you like to see it happen?
  • What prevents you from welcoming the stranger?
  • How is understanding different from agreeing? And, how can understanding produce love?


Photo Courtesy of and Lauren Peng

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