It has been a busy week. Okay, that’s an understatement. I completed the longest triathlon I’ve ever raced in (over six hours of continuous racing), then immediately started VBS set-up week, plus throw in a quick overnight trip up North to see Ben. But the church is quiet right now so I’m quickly writing my weekly blog post.
It seems very appropriate that this Sunday the Gospel reading is the story of Martha & Mary.
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10: 38-42 NIV)
As I’ve talked to others about this text I find it very interesting how many identify with Martha. How about you? Ever get yourself all worked up because somebody else wasn’t pulling their full weight? With the busy week I’ve had there have been several times for me this week!
Let’s make some observations about the passage.
#1: Martha opened her home to him. This was not forced upon her-not that that would have given her permission to have a bad attitude.
#2: Mary was listening to Jesus. Now I don’t believe that this house would have been so big that Martha couldn’t also hear Jesus teaching. What closed Martha’s ears was within her own head.
#3: Martha was “distracted.” The problem was not that there needed to be preparations made, nor was it that Martha was a hard working woman and Mary was lazy, it was that Martha was “distracted” by the preparations. I could be so busy preparing for VBS that I steamroll right over people who are working with me, or totally miss the reason we do VBS in the first place.
#4: Martha comes to Jesus as one who has authority. Martha was a woman of faith, not perfect faith, but faith nonetheless.
#5: Jesus starts his response with “Martha, Martha.” Notice the exclamation point right before Jesus’ words. Was Martha yelling? Maybe. Did Jesus have to yell the first “Martha” just to be heard. Well, that’s not how I hear it. I hear Jesus calming her, having compassion on her, saying it in a way that Martha could actually hear.
#5: Martha was upset by “many things,” but Jesus says that only “one thing is needed.” So what is that “one thing?” It’s there in the story, although not specifically listed. It’s the word of God-Jesus’ words. We could have the best VBS decorations, the best music, the most enthusiastic staff, all the bells and whistles, work really hard on all of the preparations, but if we leave out the word of God, we’re just distracted.