Martha, Martha . . .
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.” Luke 10:41 NRSV
I love the people God has called into the church. Not all the time, but most of the time. Sometimes, I have to admit that God’s children sometimes make me scratch my head, or worse.
Martha B. from Pueblo is one of those people in God’s family that makes me smile. I was at the church the Sunday after Christmas last year and she was recruiting people to help her take down the Christmas decorations. Martha might not be the most tactful person in the world, but she is truly one of the hardest working and dedicated. As she said of herself, “I am truly a Martha.”
Sometimes, I really want to argue with Jesus. This passage about Mary and Martha is “nice,” but nice doesn’t get the work done! Jesus might be fine with a roomful of Mary’s, but the church needs a couple Martha’s (male and female).
Then I go and read something that reminds me that my exegesis is off. In his book Everything Belongs, Richard Rohr wrote, “Spirituality is about seeing. It’s not about earning or achieving. It’s about relationship rather than results or requirements. Once you see, the rest follows.”
This statement and Jesus’ statement to Mary goes against what we are taught in America. We are taught that if we work hard, we will be successful. We will be rewarded for our diligence; our hard work; our work ethic. Sometimes, I think we approach our relationship with God in the same way. If we work a little harder . . . .
Jesus, however, forgot to read about the Puritan work ethic. In fact, he often turns the teaching of the religious elite upside down. I can almost hear Martha say to Jesus, “Tell her to get busy. Tell her that by cleaning and taking care of you, that’s how she shows that she loves you.” Jesus gently shakes his head (at least in my imagination), and puts his hand on Martha’s hand. He says to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things.”
What is on your distraction list? How many things do you have on your to do list that simply take your mind away from the important things: relationship with God, relationships with neighbors, and relationships with family?
I don’t know about you, but when I pray or meditate, I really struggle with “monkey brain.” Any and every little thing takes my attention away from my purpose; my relationship.
Yes, the church needs Martha’s who are willing to roll up their sleeves and get the work done. More importantly, Martha’s need to take time to be with Jesus. They need to remind themselves that the relationship is the important part, not the work. They need to remind themselves that they are not responsible for making the river flow, that is God’s business. They can take time to enjoy the flowing, living water. They can let go of results and enjoy a walk with Jesus.
Jesus, help us to take time to just be still and know you. Help all of our Martha’s to sit in your presence. Oh, and tell Mary to help out.
Northern Front Range, Southeast Colorado & New Mexico Clusters
Ministry & Mission Coach