“Suppose you have a friend…”

Luke 11: 5-8

Jesus begins, “Suppose you have a friend…” The disciples would be shocked by the suggestion that the friend might refuse to provide bread. In their day, every member in the community would be expected to contribute their best to welcome a guest.  Could we expect such hospitality today?

I was blessed to experience that kind of radical hospitality at Bonnie Hall at Chautauqua when I was sponsored to attend a Clergy Renewal week by the IOKDS. Their hosts welcomed each clergy person and our spouses like a special guest. They were ready to meet our every need without judgment or qualification. The fridge was full to bursting but each of us was still asked if there were special treats we’d like.  Flowers adorned the tables, morning papers miraculously appeared, schedule reminders were given and IOKDS members from other houses dropped by to play music. And nothing was expected in return except that we attend our programming and relax and enjoy.

Jesus intentionally made it challenging to tell which friend he was referring to in his story; the petitioner for bread, the person in bed, or the visiting guest. Different Biblical translations place the reader in a variety of these positions. Through this confusion, however, Jesus reminds us that we can find ourselves in all these positions. Hopefully we will be willing to both give and receive a hospitality modeled on the generosity of God. Jesus went on from his story to explain the nature of prayer, “Ask and it will be given to you … knock and the door will be opened…” (vs. 9)

 The Reverend Dr. Karen Boivin (retired)
United Church of Canada
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada