Today I’m joining a talented group of writers at Five Minute Friday. This community connects each Friday in an online, unedited free-write based on a one-word prompt. My timer is set for 5 minutes. Let’s see where this week’s prompt–HOSPITALITY–leads me.
Growing up in the south, I developed an understanding, at least my own childlike version, of hospitality. Every time a new family moved into the neighborhood my mom would bake cookies or cake and, depending on the weather, carry along a pitcher of iced water or tea. To my mind, this was hospitality.
As time went by, my belief changed and hospitality became a party, hosted by me with a tidy house, lots of food, and me scrambling at the last minute to make sure everything was as it should be. Everyone else had a great time. I ended up collapsing in a chair or across my bed when everything was said and done.
Now I’m in my retirement years and all that hustle and bustle has gone by the wayside. What is hospitality in my life now? Reaching out in my community to foster a good understanding of what hospitality should be is what we should place as a priority. True hospitality is what we find in the story of Mary and Martha.
When Jesus happens upon the village where Mary and Martha live, Martha is eager to invite him into their home. Mary takes a place at the feet of Jesus and listens to him. Martha, on the other hand, is distracted by many tasks and chores, so much so she asks Jesus to tell Mary to come and help her. To this request, Jesus responds with “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.” (Luke 10:41-42, The Message)
To clarify, Jesus isn’t saying one of the women is wrong while the other is right, or vice versa. They are each serving up their hospitality in different ways. Martha extended the hand of welcome to Jesus and invited him into her home, while Mary sat down to listen and give her attention to Jesus’s words. Mary and Martha have chosen different paths of ministry.
(Time used to confirm Scripture citation and to select images was not included in the 5 minutes.)