As for the matter of hospitality, Jesus wants Martha to know that there is something better than getting everything right. It does not have to be elaborate and finely crafted. Simple is good, too.
As the host of the church house, I am sometimes tempted by Martha-like frustrations. I want to serve up a sermon that sizzles on cue. I want to lead worship that is dynamic and moves people. I want the croissants to be fresh and the parking lot to be plowed.
If I am not careful about my focus, I might spoil the mood in the room with anxiety, projecting helplessness and assigning blame on others.
Jesus points multi-troubled Martha to uni-focused Mary.
There is only one important thing in this context. Hospitality is not about Martha’s standards of excellence, but upon whom hospitality is focused. It is personal and Mary set everything aside to be at Jesus’ feet.
The best thing about hospitality is paying attention to who is present. That love outlasts the complex arrangements and will be remembered longer.
Recently David Adcock shared stories at our District Community Builders Retreat. David served as director at Yonge St. Mission in Toronto for thirteen years. One young woman from the streets told him why she preferred their mission to other government-supported services. Here, she had a name and was genuinely loved. When she would leave the room, the mission workers would not use the edge of their shirt to handle the doorknob after she touched it.
In their computer lab at the mission, one woman who worked there soon had children lining up for a hug before or after they used the workstations. The difference is not great services—it is loving attention that defines genuine care and hospitality.