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Thursday, March 21 – Finding gratitude and hospitality in scripture

Psalm 126:1-3, 6 (NSRV) When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, and we rejoiced…Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves.

Psalm 147:12-15, 19-20 (NSRV) Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem! Praise your God, O Zion! For he strengthens the bars of your gates; he blesses your children within you. He grants peace within your borders; he fills you with the finest of wheat. He sends out his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly…He declares his word to Jacob, his statutes and ordinances to Israel. He has not dealt thus with any other nation; they do not know his ordinances. Praise the Lord!


We are asked to look at today’s lectionary and write a devotion focused on gratitude and hospitality. The reason we must look at the entire Bible is that no single segment has everything that God has to teach us. The readings for today have important references to gratitude but none about hospitality. Scholars tell us that the two psalms cited were written during the exile and describe events that had not yet happened. Yet they call for gratitude for what God will do. As Christians we may take these as calling us to express gratitude for a future event, our reconciliation with God and our life with him forever. Truly this is a subject more than worthy of gratitude.

What about hospitality? Here, we cannot find much help in the lectionary and must look elsewhere. And as Christians, the first place we look is to Jesus. Today is the Thursday before Holy Week. What was Jesus doing on this day? Quite probably he was with Mary and Martha following the raising of Lazarus. In an earlier visit he taught Martha what hospitality means—paying attention to the guest and not becoming distracted by the mundane (Luke 10:38-42). In this visit he will shortly arrange for a dinner with his closest disciples in an upper room, Jesus offering hospitality to his friends. But Jesus demonstrated hospitality in many other ways. He was the Son of God but at meals he did not ask to be treated as an honored guest but dined with outcasts and sinners. His first recorded miracle was to help a friend offer hospitality when he had run out of wine (John 2:3-10). We model Jesus when we show hospitality to all, not merely the powerful. We model it even more when we invite Jesus to be with us at times of gladness, meetings, and sadness.

Prayer (from Psalm 126)

Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like the watercourses in the Negeb. May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy. And when our exile is over may we come with you into the New Jerusalem where death and pain are no more and we shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Linton Brooks