Desert Hospitality

Today’s Readings
Genesis 23-24
Matthew 7

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10 The servant took ten of his master’s camels and all of his master’s best provisions, set out, and traveled to Nahor’s city in Aram-naharaim.11 He had the camels kneel down outside the city at the well in the evening, when women come out to draw water. 12 He said, “Lord, God of my master Abraham, make something good happen for me today and be loyal to my master Abraham. 13 I will stand here by the spring while the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water. 14 When I say to a young woman, ‘Hand me your water jar so I can drink,’ and she says to me, ‘Drink, and I will give your camels water too,’ may she be the one you’ve selected for your servant Isaac. In this way I will know that you’ve been loyal to my master.” 15 Even before he finished speaking, Rebekah—daughter of Bethuel the son of Milcah wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother—was coming out with a water jar on her shoulder.16 The young woman was very beautiful, old enough to be married, and hadn’t known a man intimately. She went down to the spring, filled her water jar, and came back up.

17 The servant ran to meet her and said, “Give me a little sip of water from your jar.”

18 She said, “Drink, sir.” Then she quickly lowered the water jar with her hands and gave him some water to drink. 19 When she finished giving him a drink, she said, “I’ll draw some water for your camels too, till they’ve had enough to drink.” 20 She emptied her water jar quickly into the watering trough, ran to the well again to draw water, and drew water for all of the camels. 21 The man stood gazing at her, wondering silently if the Lord had made his trip successful or not (Genesis 24:10-21, Common English Bible).

I know, I know. The story that is our lesson for today talks of Rebekah drawing water from the well. There is nothing about the camels drinking from an Aquafina bottle. Forgive me. I think the picture is funny. When I can’t decide otherwise, I will almost always settle for funny.

Hospitality is important for those who live in or travel through the desert. People who live in the desert and people who travel through the desert, almost always, at some point will find themselves in need of hospitality from someone.

In our reading today Abraham wants a wife for Isaac, but he doesn’t want her to come from the Canaanite women, he wants her to come from his own people. So he decides to send a servant back to find Isaac a wife. All we really know about this servant was he was the oldest of Abraham’s servants. We also can understand him to be loyal to Abraham and that on some level he had faith in God.

When the servant approaches the town he sees a woman drawing water from a well. He says a quick prayer asking for God to have her provide hospitality to him but he asks for more. The servant asks for a sign, for the woman to use the right words so he will know this is the woman for Isaac.

The woman, Rebekah, of course, gives the servant a drink of her water, then knowing the responsibility of desert hospitality, she draws water for the camels as well, even if it didn’t come from an Aquafina bottle. From there, the servant goes in and visits with Rebekah’s father, a deal is made and Rebekah does indeed become the wife of Isaac.

It was hospitality but it was more than that. It was a sign that signaled Abraham’s servant that his mission was nearing completion.

Have you ever considered that something you do might be a sign for someone else?

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

"The Pastor Ponders" is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. Bishop and I live in Sweeny, Texas where I am the pastor of First United Methodist Church. I have served here for the past two years. For the past 27 years I have served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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