Erin Shelby of Cincinnati, OH, USA
How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of the messenger who announces peace,
who brings good news,
who announces salvation,
who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’
Listen! Your sentinels lift up their voices,
together they sing for joy;
for in plain sight they see
the return of the Lord to Zion. -Isaiah 52:6-8
My house is in shambles with bits of drywall powder scattered about. Renovations in my kitchen have been taking place for some time now, with no end in sight. The walls are exposed down to the studs, and the tiles have been ripped off the floors. The dishwasher has been long gone, and the cabinets have been ripped out. Counter space is limited, making it difficult to cook or let dishes air dry. This morning, I drank my coffee out of a Styrofoam cup; last night I ate dinner from a paper plate. Not exactly an ideal environment for house guests. My limits for practicing hospitality are quite obvious.
If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “I\’m just no good at hospitality,” the story of Mary and Martha’s meeting with Jesus could give you pause. In Luke 10, we see two sisters with two different ways of approaching the Master. While Martha wanted to do all the service-type preparations you’d normally associate with being a good host, it was Mary’s open heart that Jesus praised. If she’d lived in our time, Martha would have probably been the one making a Pinterest-inspired centerpiece; but in the end, it was Mary’s attention towards Jesus that was praised.
Hospitality is more than just serving meals or washing dishes; it is an opening of the heart. Mary gave the best gift of a gracious host: her presence, her time, her attention, and her kindness. In her listening to Jesus, she gave “what is better” (Luke 10:42). True hospitality is an outflow of the heart-its intentions, with a desire to give to others. It can go outside the home and into the church, the school, the streets, or the workplace.
How can you practice hospitality today, in your own unique way?
“May I open myself to change, to being guided by the Spirit; may I risk the unknown and live into the Mystery!” (Nan C. Merrill, Psalms for Praying, 234)
A New Beginning
Opportunities for new beginnings occur in each moment, day, or year. Even when we feel stuck, the Spirit is always offering an invitation to return to our deeper intention of living life fully with God, others, creation, and our truest selves. Pay attention at the opening of this new year to what feels like a fresh beginning in you. Where is the Spirit inviting you into a new possibility, awareness, or way of being?
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.