Remembering the Saints (8)
Berach the sweet-lipped left
in the glen of the unbelieving monks
hospitality of a true lord of meat…
Whether they be foreigners, or buffoons, or jesters,
till the judgment come of the crashing din,
he will not be without ample hospitality…
- Anonymous, Life of Berach
Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul. And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” So she persuaded us.
- Acts 16.14, 15
Berach (fl. mid- to late-6th century) began his ministry by serving the monks in Coemgen’s monastery at Glendalough. He was responsible to plan, prepare, and serve the daily meals, and all who benefited from his service remarked the efficiency and excellence of it. He continued to practice hospitality as a central feature of his ministry once he became a monk and an abbot. He saw hospitality as a way both of showing his gratitude to the Lord and of humbling himself to serve others, whether they were strangers or fellow-servants of the Lord.
Practicing hospitality can provide a significant ministry of grace. To care for someone’s physical needs, to offer them shelter, camaraderie, rest, and generosity – like Lydia did with Paul and his team – can express the love of God in ways the spoken word cannot. The Spirit works to bring forth hospitality (helps, 1 Cor. 12.28) within the believing community, and we should seek opportunities to engage this ministry that others may know the grace of God in tangible ways.
Hospitable folks think about others, how to care for them, provide respite in their day, bring delight into their lives, and make them feel like the center of attention. David rejoiced in the fact that God prepared a table for him, to refresh and refortify him in the midst of his enemies (Ps. 23). Jesus is preparing a great banquet to receive all His followers into the new heavens and new earth (Rev. 19). Hospitality is important because it allows others to experience a measure of God’s personal care and concern, and thus to realize something of His Presence.
We should aspire to be hospitable in ways appropriate to our callings. We won’t all be like Berach, fixing daily meals for the servants of the Lord, or like Lydia, offering temporary housing and refection for a missionary team. But we can all show care and concern for others and to provide them rest and refreshment along the way in their journey. The example of saints like Lydia and Berach can help us think about how we might exercise the gift of hospitality throughout the course of our day.
God is hospitable to all people, even those who do not believe in Him, even His enemies. He shows them love, attends to their daily needs, brings good things into their lives, and reveals Himself to them in all the things He has made. That most people take advantage of God’s hospitality by failing to give thanks does not deter Him from continuing to care for them. This is what God does. It’s how He woos people to Himself and prepares them to hear the Word of the Gospel.
We who are being transformed into the image of Jesus Christ should make it a priority to figure out how to bring more of the discipline of hospitality into our daily lives. The people who experience the love of God from us as we take an interest in them, go out of our way to serve them, or try to bring some delight and joy into their lives, will be more open to hearing about the love of God which we know through Jesus.
Berach left a legacy of hospitality for those he taught and served. He was remembered for his kindness and generosity by those who knew the grace of God through his daily ministrations. Surely we can take up a portion of that legacy and honor the Lord by serving others, in small ways and large.
1. What opportunities for exercising hospitality do you expect to have today?
2. How should you prepare for these opportunities?
Sing Psalm 23.4-6
(The Gift of Love: Though I May Speak with Bravest Fire)
The Lord is ever by my side; His rod and staff with me abide.
A table rich for me He spreads; with oil my Lord anoints my head.
Goodness and mercy, full and free, shall ever after follow me,
and in the house of God, my Lord, shall I abide forevermore!
Grant me, Lord, a greater measure of the gift of love, that I may serve others today as I…
Resources about Celtic Christians
To learn more about the Celtic Revival, order a free PDF copy of our book, The Celtic Revival: A Brief Introduction, by clicking here. You might also order a free copy of our book, The Legacy of Patrick, by clicking here. For longer excerpts of writings from the Celtic Revival, visit our Celtic Legacy webpage by clicking here. And, in the historical theology installments of our InVerse Theology Project, we’re exploring saints’ lives in more detail. You can begin listening by clicking here (scroll through to find more).
Please prayerfully consider becoming a supporter of The Fellowship of Ailbe. It’s easy to give to The Fellowship of Ailbe, and all gifts are, of course, tax-deductible. You can click here to donate online through Anedot or PayPal, or send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.
T. M. Moore, Principal
All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 Plummer, p. 30