"When the food was ready, Abraham took some yogurt and milk and the roasted meat, and he served it to the men. As they ate, Abraham waited on them in the shade of the trees. 'Where is Sarah, your wife?' the visitors asked. 'She's inside the tent,' Abraham replied. Then one of them said, 'I will return to you about this time next year, and your wife, Sarah, will have a son!'" - Genesis 18:8-10 (New Living Translation)
One hot afternoon, three strangers stood near Abraham's tent. Abraham could have treated them as suspected enemies; he could have harassed them, shunned them or even tried to ignore them. Instead, Abraham opened his heart and his home to the three strangers - offering them water, food and refreshment.
Only after these acts of kindness were extended did one of the visitors inform Abraham that Abraham and Sarah's greatest hope would be realized the following year. They would have a son. Abraham's reception of strangers actually set the stage for his reception of his own miracle.
Random acts of kindness are often the keys God uses to open up wondrous blessings and miracles in our lives.
Just this past month, the kind service of a waitress in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, was returned by a patron, not just with a big tip, but with all of her nursing school tuition and books paid for in full. The headline in one Harrisburg newspaper that reported the story read: "College Paid For With Kindness.'"
A few years ago I was invited by a minister I'd just met to attend and support a fundraiser to enable poor working mothers in West Africa to make toys for their children, who otherwise would have none. At the fundraiser, I met a woman who was arranging a 15-day cultural immersion tour to Israel for Catholic and Protestant ministers in the U.S. After reviewing some information about my ministry and my church, she invited me on the tour - all expenses paid.
We never know what blessings and miracles are opened to us through our random acts of kindness. To be sure, those blessings and miracles are not always returned to us in the form of fertility or money or all-expense paid travel. But the smiles that those kind acts bring to human hearts and the warmth that they engender in human spirits open all of us to the miracles of human family and global community.
Dear God, open our hearts today to giving and receiving kindness. Then let your miracles unfold. Amen.