But let me start first with eXcellence because it so well describes my son John. He was always striving for excellence. For him, if something was worth doing it was worth doing well. Here is an excerpt from his journal while in college.
"Another thing is for sure: I do not want to do mediocre work for the Lord; it has to be excellent."He demonstrated this quality in so many, many ways, like the summer he chose to do a whole year worth of Algebra so he wouldn't be behind all the other students when he went to boarding school. He was an example to us of diligence and striving for excellence; even though he often fell short of that as we all do.
But let me go on to the perfectly marvelous word I learned about today - Xenia. Xenia is a Greek word meaning hospitality. Oh, do we ever know about hospitality!
Xenia was extended to us years ago when we traveled the rivers of the Amazon basin. I'm thinking of one trip in particular when our whole family of 5 piled into an aluminum canoe to go to an Indian village and we were the recipients of xenia along the way. It is probably personified there better than anywhere since there are no hotels to stay in. Each night (the trip took 10 days) we would pull into shore where there was a house or two on high ground. We would be graciously received, given a meal, a place to bathe and a place to hang our hammocks. We would chat with the family hosting us for a short while and soon we would all be fast asleep. In the morning there would be coffee and often beiju, a very chewy bread made from manioc and then we would be off on another leg of our journey. Amazingly, God provided a home for us to stay in every single night of our trip.
Not only did we receive xenia, we also gave it. One time I invited a single woman to come and visit us. She came intending to stay for one month and stayed with us for several years, becoming a dear friend and "family" member.
But probably the ultimate "xenia" experience we had was when we were in Hawaii searching for our son. We stayed the whole month of December 1999 and did not spend any money on hotels. We stayed with several different families, but the most outstanding one was a young couple who heard our story at a church we visited. After the service they came up and offered us their home and their car while they were going to be on another island for Christmas. They had lost a child who lived for only a day after he was born so they understood what we were going through as we searched for our son. But all of the people who weren't believers were amazed. They said, "You mean you didn't even know them and they gave you their home and their car?" It was a testimony to many of the power of the love Christians are to have for one another and a very clear example of xenia.
The Bible tells us to extend hospitality to strangers, for by doing so some have entertained angels unaware. I wonder if I have entertained any angels!
Come to my house and you will experience xenia - true hospitality.