When in Serendip

When in Serendip

Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! – Hebrews 13:2

Genesis 18:1-5

 1 The LORD appeared again to Abraham near the oak grove belonging to Mamre. One day Abraham was sitting at the entrance to his tent during the hottest part of the day.

 2 He looked up and noticed three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he ran to meet them and welcomed them, bowing low to the ground.

 3 “My lord,” he said, “if it pleases you, stop here for a while.

 4 Rest in the shade of this tree while water is brought to wash your feet.

 5 And since you’ve honored your servant with this visit, let me prepare some food to refresh you before you continue on your journey.” “All right,” they said. “Do as you have said.”

The microwave oven was invented by accident, not as a result of research and trying to find a better, faster way to cook. During World War II, scientists invented the magnetron, a tube that produces microwaves. Installing magnetrons in Britain’s radar system, the microwaves were able to spot Nazi warplanes on their way to bomb the British Isles.

Years later, Percy L. Spencer, a Raytheon engineer was walking through a radar test room with a peanut cluster bar in his pocket. He got too close to a running magnetron tube and the candy melted. Later he reached into his pocket and found a gooey, sticky mess. Never underestimate the power of serendipitous candy [even if it is not chocolate].

Experiments showed that microwave heating could raise the internal temperature of many foods far more rapidly than a conventional oven. Microwaves do not detach charged particles; therefore they safely produce heat without causing food to become radioactive.

The idea of using microwave energy to cook food had arrived. The first Raytheon commercial microwave came on the market in 1954. It was so large and expensive that it was practical only for restaurant and institutional use. In 1967 Amana introduced the $500 countertop Amana Radarange.

Spencer was inventive and curious. Although his formal education ended in grade school, by just bumbling along, he managed to turn a melted candy mess into the vanguard of high-speed food preparation.

Serendipity is the phenomenon of making desirable discoveries unexpectedly. Where does the term serendipity come from? It is from a Persian fairy tale: The Three Princes of Serendip. As the princes traveled, they repeatedly made important discoveries they were not searching for by accident and sagacity. Serendip is the Classical Persian name for Sri Lanka.

Sometimes things just happen, you just never know. So, when in Serendip be serendipitous.

It is better to error on the highroad and treat all strangers well and possibly be surprised by an angel, than to treat strangers poorly and be even more surprised by an angel. It is probably a really bad move to make messengers of the King, His personal servants, angry. You do not want to be Hulkified

Children of the King should be concerned for the needs of others. They should show both “brotherly love” (philadelphia) and “hospitality” (philoxenia) (Heb 13:1,2). Why? Because in times past, hospitable people welcomed angels without knowing that they were angels. Yet, the Scriptures are not advocating hospitality because of angels, rather because of the Father. It pleases The Father when His children are hospitable. 


Potential guests might be undercover, cloaked angels.

Father being loving to total strangers does not seem normal. But you never asked me to live a natural, normal life. Encourage me to live by your high standards.


Showing hospitality, unwittingly entertaining angels occurs but rarely. It happened to Abraham (Genesis 18) and Lot (Genesis 19). The angel of the Lord also appeared to Gideon (Judges 6:11-24) and to Manoah and his wife, the parents of Samson (Judges 13:3-24). The author of Hebrews assumes that his audience has the knowledge of Old Testament history and knows what he is referring to.  

Hebrews 13:2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.

The English words show hospitality to strangers, are translated from one word in Greek, philoxenia. Philoxenia from philoslove and xenosstranger, foreigner, alien. It means strictly, love for strangers or foreigners, hence hospitality. It could also be translated, “Be sure to welcome strangers in your homes,” or “Be certain that you receive strangers into your homes,” or “… receive people from far away …,” or simply “Be sure to be hospitable” (UBS).

The author of Hebrews is exhorting the Father’s children to practice hospitality. Travel was difficult in the first century and inns were not the safest place to be. To open one’s home to a traveling stranger evidenced brotherly love and was considered a high virtue by Jews and non-Jews alike (Allen).

Hospitality is a personal, tangible way to express the Father’s love to those who offer nothing in return. Inviting strangers into your home or offering them a meal is to offer friendship and fellowship to them. It is also an opportunity to share the Father’s love to others in word and deed. In the first century, the pagan world was startled by the compassion and hospitality of the Father’s children. It was a source of amazement.

Twenty centuries have come and gone. Has anything changed in the 21st century? 


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