Written by Courtney McHill, United Methodist Pastor
There are some compelling sermons out there about our Gospel lesson this morning. I have heard the full variety. Some preachers say that Mary was stepping into a disciple role and Martha really couldn’t handle it. Others say that Mary should really be praised for study and making room for God’s word while Martha needs to chill. Still some talk about balance between work and word. This last one especially can sometimes be pretty inspiring. But I say this week….
Enough! Let’s fully dive into and be Martha this week! Martha gets the bum deal in all of the storylines above. Martha doesn’t get her full due I believe and this week we will fully cater to the Martha personalities out there.
Martha takes on the hospitality role full on. What if we did? Jesus buys into hospitality. Just before this scenario, Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan. We studied it last week. Jesus sits and eats with all sorts of people and how could he eat with people without Martha? Martha is working in the kitchen. She is prepping the meal. She is making room for Jesus and his posse to converse. She is welcoming them into her home. Martha is obviously running the household. We could learn much from this woman. Let’s go into the kitchen and make room!
Martha looks out for her sister. It is true that all of a sudden Mary is taking on a discipleship role. She is sitting at Jesus’ feet. She is soaking in the word and Martha is watching over all of this. In response, Martha asks the hard question, “What is she doing? Tell her to come and help me!” What if we asked hard questions of Jesus and took on the tasks laid before us.
Martha is learning from Jesus too. In all of this, it is safe to say that Jesus responds to Martha that she is a bit too distracted. She has let her work get in the way of her initial mission of hospitality. The Greek word for “was distracted” is the same word for “to be pulled, dragged away.” She has become burdened and distracted from providing hospitality. Jesus doesn’t scorn but he does call attention and calls us all to a learning moment. It is important to realize when we have been pulled away from our mission, our core, what gives us joy. By stepping into Martha’s, and only Martha’s, shoes can we see how this might play out in us.
Today we will be Martha! Today we will step into the kitchen and busy ourselves to try to rediscover and redefine ourselves. Today we will not zone in on Mary but give Martha her full due. Today we will make our task lists and when Jesus calls our attention we will look up and know a bit more about the nature of Jesus. Today we won’t deny that we like a little help along the way and we find joy in the busyness around us.
Quotes for the Week “I am more modest now, but I still think that one of the pleasantest of all emotions is to know that I, I with my brain and my hands, have nourished my beloved few, that I have concocted a stew or a story, a rarity or a plain dish, to sustain them truly against the hungers of the world.” ― M.F.K. Fisher
“All profound distraction opens certain doors. You have to allow yourself to be distracted when you are unable to concentrate.” ― Julio Cortázar
“The humblest tasks get beautified if loving hands do them.” ― Louisa May Alcott
“Thankfully, persistence is a great substitute for talent.” ― Steve Martin
Psalm 52 (NRSV) Why do you boast, O mighty one, of mischief done against the godly?
All day long you are plotting destruction.
Your tongue is like a sharp razor, you worker of treachery.
You love evil more than good, and lying more than speaking the truth. Selah
You love all words that devour, O deceitful tongue.
But God will break you down forever; he will snatch and tear you from your tent; he will uproot you from the land of the living. Selah
The righteous will see, and fear, and will laugh at the evildoer saying,
“See the one who would not take refuge in God, but trusted in abundant riches,
and sought refuge in wealth!”
But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God.
I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever.
I will thank you forever, because of what you have done.
In the presence of the faithful I will proclaim your name, for it is good.
Luke 10: 38-42 (NRSV) Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”
Questions for the Week
Do you relate to any of these characters more than others?
Do you find yourself caught up in the logistics?
When you get distracted what brings you back?