Being always ready for visitors

By Dave Hogsett, a retired United Methodist Church minister now residing in Plymouth.

Late Christmas my oldest son, his wife, and six children arrived at our home to celebrate Christmas. Four adults, one youth, three children, and an energetic, chocolate lab joined them the following afternoon. Eighteen of us enjoyed a wonderful Christmas feast as we celebrated the birth of Jesus.
In preparation for our visitors, Diane and I needed to get the following done:
1. All of my neatly stacked piles of paper on the dining room table waiting to be processed needed to be moved.
2. My clutter on the coffee table also needed attention.
3. The Christmas gifts that had been collecting on the bed in the front bedroom, but which had been moved to the back bedroom so the bed could be used for coats when the people from Diane's office came for lunch, needed to be wrapped.
4. All of my neatly stacked piles of paper on the chairs in the basement needed to find new homes.
5. My summer tree in the basement needed to be transformed into my winter Christmas tree.
6. Several items in the hallway needed to be put in the attic once space could be made. Just shoving it in would no longer work.
7. Three chairs being stored in my garden shed needed to be brought inside so they could warm up.
8. I needed to make sure I did not have any extra shoes resting in the living room. Not quite sure how they always manage to get there!
9. Assorted other clutter needed to disappear.
Saturday afternoon as I was sitting in the living room working on a Sudoku puzzle, I thought to myself how nice the house looked. Too bad Christmas could not come more often so that I would be motivated to make sure that it was ready for visitors.
In the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 25:1-13) Jesus tells a parable about 10 bridesmaids who are awaiting the arrival of the bridegroom. They have lamps to light his way. Unfortunately, his arrival is delayed. When he finally does come at midnight, five of the bridesmaids find they do not have enough oil for their lamps.
They had neglected to bring extra for just such an emergency. While they are looking for oil, the bridegroom arrives and the bridesmaids miss out on attending the wedding banquet.
The intent of the parable in its present setting is that we should always be prepared because Jesus may return at any moment. The parable would also seem to suggest to me that it might be a good practice to make the sure the house is ready for visitors. That way I would not have panic when there is a knock at the door or someone phones that they will stopping by in just a few minutes.
Most of my frenzied activity to get the house ready for visitors can be traced to procrastination. Rather then addressing the papers that have accumulated on my dining room table when they arrive, I put them in piles to care for later. “Later” usually comes when necessity forces me to deal with them.
“Being always ready for visitors” is a principle that can apply to almost any area of our lives ... and would make a good New Year's resolution.