Prepare the Guest Room
Philem. 22 ¶ One thing more—prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping through your prayers to be restored to you.
Paul was sending a letter to Philemon and asking him to restore his servant Onesimus. The very personal nature of the letter can be sensed in its reading. Near the end Paul talks about his hope of being set free and being able to come and visit his friends. He asks them to “prepare a guest room for me.” There is hope within this request for it reveals his faith that their prayers will help in his release. It is also the sign of hospitality within the community of faith, that these, his friends, would have a place of hospitality prepared for this one who has become as a brother.
The gift of hospitality is one about which we speak little these days and yet it is an important gift within the entire family of God. It is within this concept of hospitality that we find this comment from Paul. This little verse speaks to hospitality which naturally develops when Christianity is practiced within community. The result is prayer, faith and practice.
Paul mentions that Philemon is praying for his restoration. Fellows within the community pray for one another. They lift up the needs of one another and are willing to bear each others’ burdens. When we spend time in prayer for our sisters and brothers, their needs become our needs. We are able to sense their burdens in a new and palpable way, and in doing so, we know better how to pray, but also, how to respond.
Paul himself has faith in his restoration, because he believes in the power of prayer. Actually, he believes in the power of prayer because he believes in the one who answers prayer. Not only does Paul have faith, but the community of believers to whom he belongs has faith. The faith of the individuals is strengthened by the faith of the community.
Finally, the community of faith responds to needs by the practice of hospitality. Paul is able to ask them to have a guest room prepared and, while we don’t know for sure, I would be quite certain that Philemon would have welcomed Paul into his home with open arms. The place would have been ready for him. Hospitality meant that those within the community of faith shared with and cared for one anothers' needs.
Simple steps for those living within the community of faith. May we take time to pray, lifting up our sisters and brothers in Christ. May God increase our faith to believe in and await restoration and may the family of faith graciously greet one another with warm hospitality. This is the family of God.
Lord, may this day be one of Christian hospitality. Amen.