Graham and I have a small difference of opinion when it comes to cleaning for visitors. He thinks I have perfectionist tendencies. I think I'm doing the bare minimum. After all, I have to at least pick up all the toys and clean up that pile of crumbs that keeps appearing under Toby's dining chair, don't I? And while I've got the vacuum cleaner out, the living room and hall always need doing. And there's no way our guests want to see all that dirty washing up, so I'll just do that. And wipe all the counters. And file all those pieces of paper that have been sitting there for weeks. And... what? Perfectionist? Me?
Of course, this may be one of those male/female divides. Most of my female friends regard having guests over as an opportunity to make the house look reasonable for at least a few hours. Because all that clutter just builds up. A pile of paper there, a stack of laundry waiting to be put away, those odds and ends that need a home, the screwdriver that's mysteriously still on the coffee table three weeks after you used it. And you don't really notice until you realise that someone else is going to see it.
Our hearts and souls tend to get equally cluttered up. A bad habit here, a bit of time wasting there. Nothing really wrong, and it all slips in so gradually that you don't really notice it. Then something happens to make you look around with fresh eyes. Suddenly you see the thick dust over parts that used to be shiny, the heaps of rubbish gathering in the corners. And you do the mental equivalent of yelling, "This place is a tip!" and dashing for a broom.
Christmas, you know, is a time for visitors. How's your house looking?
“Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap. He will sit as
a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi
and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord."