Hospitality isn’t my forte.
I mean, I like to throw parties and all, and I throw at least one a year at Christmastime. I’ve planned birthday parties for my kids, I planned my dad’s 50th, and I organized my 10-year high school reunion. And I’ve been told that my guests enjoy themselves (or that’s what they say at least). But really I’m not a great hostess.
Ask my mom. My sister and I are like night and day. Go over to my sister’s house; her house might not be the most organised, but she’ll drop everything to spend time with you. There was a time where her house was becoming so crowded with unnecessary items and loads of old wood and tiles from a previous renovation, that we even contemplated getting in touch with a waste removal company to come help us out. It didn’t go that far, but it was close. She even once hired someone to do the housekeeping for her so she could spend time with us. Come to my house, and I might accidentally spend more time trying to clean up the disaster in the living room instead of chatting. At least my house is clean, right? If we don’t remind you of Mary and Martha, I don’t know what will. Thankfully, cleaning the windows never takes too long because of my trusty robot window cleaner!
It’s funny though…the word hospitality has been stuck in my brain for weeks now. I don’t know exactly where it came from or why. But it’s there, and it’s burning. And I’m not talking about the signing-up-to-be-a=greeter-at-church thing. I’ll do that every once in a while, but really that’s not my thing. I’m talking the invite-people-over-to-my-house-whether-it’s-clean-or-not-and-build-relationships thing.
WHAT???? Invite people over to my house when it’s not clean??? This goes against the very core of my nature. But I know I’m not the only one.
Let’s look at a familiar story:
As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what He taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”
But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.
Many of us understand this verse to mean that Mary is focusing on Jesus and His Word, learning all she can from our Savior, while Martha wastes her time with the things of here and now. But I don’t think that’s the all we’re supposed to get out of that story.
While He was showing the importance of stopping to listen to God and focusing on His Word, Jesus also shows us the value of relationship. Koinonia is the Greek word for relationship, and the direct translation means “communion” or “joint participation.” Can any one say that Martha’s fussing over “details” while Jesus speaks is “joint participation?” Nope. Can we commune if we’re too busy cleaning the house to have a face-to-face conversation with our guests? Oops. This speaks to me directly.
I’ve been thinking recently about how life is short. Too short to not build relationships. How do we do that? Hospitality.
I want to open the doors to my home. I want to accept people into my home who are lonely, weary, and lost. But I also want to accept people into my home who are joyful and full of the Holy Spirit. And commune with them. And participate in life with them. In a clean house. Or a dirty house. Let’s all build relationships by showing hospitality.
Hi, my name is Martha, but this time let’s forget the fuss.