Sukkot this year was different. We were unable to join our congregation for the week of camping. Several families were also unable to complete the entire week. They decided to host a dinner in their individual homes the last four evenings of Sukkot. This opportunity to fellowship with one another was posted on our congregation’s website to allow others to also join in the festivities. If interested, they were encouraged to contact the organizer for the host name and contact information. 

Those from the congregation who were going to participate were asked to sign up, so the host would have an idea of how many would be attending and could plan accordingly. There were four hosts who determined the menu each night and asked guests to bring something to accompany their main dish. Someone other than the host would lead in a devotion and prayer. We were all looking forward to spending time together. 

On the first night, we were informed that there would be two additional guests. We were all curious who these two people were. When they arrived, we introduced ourselves and spent some time getting to know each other. We found out this couple lived in the same area but did not have a local fellowship, only one online. They somehow found out about our sukkot dinner plans and asked to join us. 

The conversation prior to and during the meal was very lively. Our guests had very strong opinions about many things and shared them unreservedly. We found this very interesting as we had all just met. Based on the comments made and opinions given, we surmised they would not be back for the second evening festivities.

We were wrong!

As my husband and I were driving home after the second night dinner, I told him this encounter reminded me of the movie “Ushpizin”, a viewing that has become a tradition at Sukkot. It’s about a poor Hasidic couple who receive a surprise gift at Sukkot to purchase a sukkah, food, and drink to celebrate the Feast. The couple is visited by two men, one of whom the main character knew in his previous non-religious life that causes quite a stir. This encounter allowed the couple to offer hospitality and kindness to so-called strangers.

Each night there were 10-12 people who attended the dinners at the four homes, but not the same people every night. The devotion topics led to discussion that somehow touched on a subject our guests brought up and gave their opinion. I know for some, including myself, it was difficult at times to keep silent and not share what we really thought of certain comments being made. Repeatedly we sensed the Spirit of YHVH moving in these discussions. Our guests spoke less and listened more. Over the course of four evenings, our guests allowed us to show kindness, compassion, and love to them despite our many disagreements.

Will we see them again? Their belief about traveling on Shabbat prevents them from joining us in fellowship each week. Would we like to see them again? Yes, as they are on the same journey and we are brothers and sisters in Messiah.

“Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for in doing so, some have entertained angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2 HNV

“But now faith, hope, and love remain — these three. The greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians.” 13:13 HNV

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