I recently spoke about hospitality and welcome at our Trinity Joint Benefice Service, and it seemed appropriate to summarise what I said there in this space.
The famous icon, by Andrei Rublev, goes by two titles. Western Christians call it 'The Old Testament Trinity'. Eastern Christians call it 'The Hospitality of Abraham.' The Old Testament story it depicts is Genesis 18 when three angelic beings visit Abraham, who speak and act as one in the story, and so later, Christians saw this story as a foreshadowing of the Trinity, and the relationship at the heart of the Trinity. Three separate persons, but one God, acting and speaking as one. The icon's two titles lead us nicely into thinking both about what the Trinity teaches us about relationship and oneness, but also what it tells us about hospitality - which is key to what relationship is so often about.
Today we have a western understanding of hospitality as entertaining family and friends. But hospitality to ancient middle Eastern cultures is very different. It is always about hospitality to the stranger. In the New Testament the Greek word translated 'hospitality' is the word 'philo-xenia' which means 'one who loves strangers'. Provision is seen as a basic human need, and so it becomes the moral duty to provide food and shelter to the stranger because it is our moral obligation to God. When Abraham has visitors turn up, he is morally obliged to provide hospitality. To refuse hospitality is to reject God. To show hospitality is to welcome God.