Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans 12:9-13 NIV
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42 NIV
In July 2018 my daughter spent a day preparing food for a young singles group outdoor picnic. It was scheduled to be dinner at Clement Park. In typical Colorado fashion, we loaded all the food in our car and got about 10 minutes from our house when the skies opened up with one of the worst gully washer rain and hail storms I have ever experienced. After pulling over to the side of the road, because I could not see to drive, and several phone calls between us and the leader of the group, we decided to turn around, go home, and invite all the young people to an evening of worship, sharing and dinner at our home.
As I navigated Littleton Boulevard, which was more of a river than a street at the time, my mind raced. I was thinking of how we could get our home ready for 20 or more young people with about 10-15 minutes notice. I imagine Martha may have had similar thoughts. I was thinking “where are the chairs?”, “should we set up outside?” Then I panicked thinking that my house was NOT company ready. Perhaps you have felt this way? But – then a calm set in, because I realized, the young people just wanted somewhere to gather. The food was already prepared, we simply needed to set up some chairs and tables outside, and everything would be fine.
The purpose of the gathering at Martha’s home was to see Jesus, hear his teaching, and be in His presence. Similarly, at our impromptu picnic, the rain stopped, the young people shared a meal, sang worship songs together, and enjoyed fellowship with each other. About 30 people gathered at our home that evening, including Joel, whose wheelchair my husband and his mom managed to get into our backyard so he could join everyone else. Our son Joshua was watching Clifford on his TV, and the young Rosenberger children joined him – it was a sweet time of children being entertained together.
As we gather this summer – let’s take advantage of these opportunities. Ask Jesus – what is your purpose in this gathering? What do you want me to focus on and what might not be so important? Who would you want me to invite? True hospitality needn’t be planned to the last detail. Be available, be willing, be welcoming, be hospitable.