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Saturday, September 10, 2016

Today’s Reading | Luke 10:38–42   

Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.” (NRSV)

Housekeeping. Not a word with a lot of instantly positive images for a lot of people. Lots of chores--repetitive, busy-work kinds of chores that are only done for a moment before you need to do them again, building lots of little resentments. “Don’t walk on that floor: I just mopped!” “Don’t use those towels: they’re for company!” “Use a coaster! Were you born in a barn?”

Martha asks Jesus into her home and then bustles around doing this and that, being the good hostess and housekeeper. And, as so often happens, the desire to be a good housekeeper triggers a little resentment of those who are not similarly driven. “Why is Mary just sitting with our guest, rather than doing chores?”

A friend of mine recently stayed with us when she was in town. Soon after, she posted an article she’d found online, entitled “In Praise of Scruffy Hospitality.” (I won’t deny that it’s likely a reflection of our style of hosting. Sorry, Mom.)

In this article, the author writes about how important it is not to allow our desire to show a pristine home, to put on a show, to impress, to compromise our hospitality. Hospitality is, after all, supposed to be about the regard we show for the people we invite to share our home.

Mary pays attention to their guest while Martha pays attention to their house. It’s normal to want to make a good impression on a guest you respect. But what leaves the better impression? Our “special occasion” linens, or our attention and presence? When we invite people into our homes, isn’t it in order to spend time with them? Is the impression we want our guests to have really “What a beautiful house!” or is it “What comfortable people!”?

When we have guests, there is indeed “need of only one thing”: our presence with our guests, our attention to them, is the heart of hospitality.

Lord, remind us that when we open ourselves to others, we don’t do it to receive their praise but rather to share in their presence. Keep us mindful that the quality of our home is enhanced by our guests being in it. Amen.

Written by Rob Koon, Coordinator of Fine Arts

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