Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Sacred and Ordinary

"No distinction was made between the sacred and the everydayƂ…their life was all one piece. It was all sacred and all ordinary." ~Sue Bender
When I read this quote prompt, I liked it, but I didn't think I had anything to say about it. But then, just today, I came across this at Let Me Be a Woman. I hope you will read the whole post about Hospitality, but what stood out to me is how we often avoid inviting someone over to our home if everything isn't perfect because we wonder, "What will she think of me?" Her conclusions cut to the heart of what hospitality is really about, showing love to others, while we presuppose their love towards us. She writes,
The result of all this inner questioning was the realization that within the family of believers, love should be presupposed. We had invited them over in the first place to love and serve them, not to impress them or seek their admiration for ourselves or our home. With these thoughts, and the expression of them to Nick, the atmosphere in the house shifted and peace reigned once again. Instead of vacuuming under the couch, cushions were fluffed for their backs and baby toys were laid out for our youngest guest. Instead of washing out the refrigerator's vegetable bins, ice supplies were checked and the coffee pot set up.
The reason that her thoughts on hospitality rang so true to me, is that I had almost the exact experience this weekend. Our church publishes birthdays of our members each week in the bulletin, presumably so that we can show love to one another on our special day. Sunday morning I noticed that my friend's birthday was on Monday. I immediately thought, "I should have her over for lunch sometime this week." Of course that led to thoughts of my schedule, where I already had plans on Tuesday and Friday. "Well, I could see if she has plans tomorrow. . . . although I don't know if I have time to get to the store. "

When I think of blending the sacred and the ordinary, I can't help but think of the scripture in Colossians 3:23, "Whatever you do work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men." The Lord commands me in John 13:34, "Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." So, if I'm providing hospitality in order to please men, I must make sure that my house is spotless. I should prepare a multi-course lunch of new and gourmet recipes. I should wait until I can sufficiently prepare before issuing an invitation.

My friend came over on Monday. She expressed her thanks a couple of times and said that she felt so special. She didn't care if my house was in ship shape. She didn't care that I served her a salad made from things on hand and brownies from a box. She just loved the love.

In Other Words was hosted this week at Holy Experience. Click here to read others' thoughts on this quote.


Grafted Branch said...

Truth is -- those who have let me in when rooms are a little "lived in" are the only ones I feel totally comfortable and confident with which to do the same.

The others make me nervous and cause me to fight against feelings of inadequacy. Not their fault, really, but it helped me realize that I do not want to be that friend that makes another struggle that way.

I love all the different ways the Spririt has worked this prompt in us. Thanks for the post, and for visiting with a comment.

christianwomenonline said...

Your friend is lucky. I wish I was in her birthday shoes :) And I never care if a house is untidy, so invite me anytime. :)

Katrina said...

So true. This is an ongoing struggle for me, and to be honest, it all comes down to pride. "What will they think of me?" Ugh. It should be more about, "What can I do to bless their day?"

My husband tells a story of a time when his dad was working in a city far from the rest of his family. They were very poor and he had nowhere to stay. A generous family invited him to stay with them indefinitely. Even though they didn't have a guest room. Even though they had a tiny house, one bathroom, several loud children. It didn't matter. He was so blessed by their hospitality - despite their own circumstances - that it made a lasting impression on him.

Dianne said...

This is so true and something I'm trying to learn. I liked your take on this quote (I couldn't think of anything to say on this one!)

Katherine@Raising Five said...

Be right over for brownies. I'll bring the box! Love your sweet attitude - homey and welcoming. Great post.

lady laura said...

Thanks for the linkage, Jennifer. I still have so far to go in this area, but I am confident that the more I practice, the easier (and more blessed) it will be.

Loved your thoughts on this as well=)

Code Yellow Mom said...

THIS was fabulous. Presupposing love and loving the love - wow! They really are such elevating thoughts that change how we look at serving others...Thanks for this awesome perspective.

Robin said...

You know, Jennifer, don't WE always tell our friends, "Oh, it doesn't matter what your house looks like right now," but we cringe at the thought of someone popping in on us, and finding our home not quite in order (for me, sometimes that's an understatement!).

The thing is, I REALLY don't mind if a friend's house is wrecked. I can still enjoy sitting at her kitchen table, drinking a coke & eating half-stale chips, because of the company. It's about relationship, not environment.

Nice post...I hope I remember to visit cwo tomorrow :).