She had the house, and she had the gift of hospitality. She invited Him and He came. She knew her sister would help her prepare, and her sister did, but when the guests were there her sister specialized in the other half of hospitality: heart to heart.
I have often pondered Martha and Mary. Can’t really tell you which I like better, who I resemble more. I don’t have a sister, and so I’ve been like both of them I suppose.
I try to prepare ahead of time. You can’t be doing preparation things when the guests arrive. If something is left out or undone, it’s just going to be fine, because once the guests are here, they are more important than the food. Not that there isn’t food, but the host knows to interact with the guests, that food is gift to them, not something to stress over and distract from fellowship.
Writing this, I realize I have been too distracted by the food prep lately. I’m a bit slower, a bit weaker, a bit uneasier with a crowd these days. So listening to what I wrote, that may help me on Sunday nights when we invite students in….
The other side of hospitality, the opening of heart as well as home, I have a moment I love to remember. It was a Sunday and my daughter and I had just gotten on a bus to go to church by t in Boston. A young black man got on and didn’t have enough credit on his Charlie card. He didn’t have enough change, either. The driver kept repeating something about insufficient funds and the man loudly asked if anyone had a measly (not his word) 75 cents. No one responded. No one made eye contact. I thought that was odd. Then I remembered I had my Mom’s coin purse.
I spoke up, thoughts coming to me as I did so: “I have 75 cents for you but you’ll have to come back here and get it.” As he did, “I’ll give you this but I want you to apologize to the driver and stop swearing; I have my daughter here with me.”
He thanked me and apologized to me saying he hadn’t seen my child. (It seems to be an unwritten rule not to swear around children in Boston or at least in Medford.) He apologized grandly to the bus driver, saying that his mom drove for the MTA and he wouldn’t have wanted to rip off the system. He dropped in his coins and sat down, halfway down the bus.
The driver then put the bus in park and stood up. He addressed all 5 passengers I think, “I could have given him a free ride. I have the ability to do that. I just couldn’t understand what he was saying.”
He sat down again and drove us on. We got to the t station and rode to church and yet I felt so thrilled. I felt God had inspired me to buy reconciliation for 75 cents and I was wanting to do it again! In a funny way on that bus I was hospitable, fearlessly, in a culturally appropriate way, and by the grace of God in the particular situation of being a mother and grieving for my own mother.
Thanks be to God.