Hospitality can be exhausting to the host and fulfilling to the guest. Often time women take the heavy toll of it. Most people enjoy hosting though it can be tiring. Bible commends and encourages to be hospitable. (1 Peter 4:9)
Martha & Mary are sisters, and they had the rare privilege of hosting Jesus in their home. The last five verses of the tenth chapter of Luke sums up one of those visits and is packed with gems of wisdom on hosting. Based on that narration I would present here three hospitality tips from Martha & Mary.
- Welcoming heart
It all starts with your heart. Unless you have a desire for hospitality, it is not going to work. In the above story, we read Martha welcomed Jesus into her home. What a commendable act! If you have a welcoming heart and love for hosting, challenges of hospitality can be easily overcome.
I know of an elderly couple who enjoys welcoming people consistently into their home and bravely make specialty foods. They might have been the last people one would expect to do this especially because of their failing health and tiring age. It all started because they had a welcoming heart!
- Keep it simple
Even those with a heart for welcoming people may be hesitant to do it because of the hard work of preparing food and home. Martha forgot to spend time with the special guest whom she herself invited and started to complain. Her problem was she got preoccupied with much serving.
Some may be overtly conscious about impressive presentations and thereby spending a lot of time on preparations making hosting even harder. There is a recipe for easy and regular hospitality. Keep it simple. This is an invaluable advice given to my family by a friend of ours. We have seen her regularly hosting people using this mantra. Don’t misunderstand the word simple. This doesn’t always mean just one or two food types. With some planning and creative ideas, she successfully manages to prepare faster meals, and I never have seen anyone missing seconds. Like most things it will get easier with experience and as you learn ways of pleasant and graceful serving. Undoubtedly, some occasions, like a Thanksgiving meal, demand or expect fancy and exquisite arrangements. Otherwise, hospitality can be successfully managed by a smart strategy of keeping it simple on most occasions.
- Enjoy the conversations
How many times you have been invited to a home and all the time you talked about food sitting around the table? How many of you didn’t even get to spent time with your invited guests as you got tired and carried away with the arrangements? I bet all of you had experiences like that.
Mary was aware of such distractions and she didn’t let it allow to spoil the fun. She didn’t forget the essential. Jesus says of her one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her. What is that one thing Jesus is talking about? It was Mary seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word.
She didn’t let the stress and hard work distract her from the purpose. That purpose of hosting was spending time and enjoying the conversations with the guests. This also requires a lot of patience and practice. Otherwise, quickly, conversations can cross the boundary of offense. Jokes cracked should not be at the expense of mocking someone. A good conversation is remarkably powerful yet hard to happen. But when that happens people cherish those memories.
Three simple tips are presented here, derived from the famous Marta and Mary hosting of Jesus. It sums up as a welcoming heart, keeping it simple and, finally, staying to the purpose, i.e., enjoy the conversations.