Reflection for Tuesday 6th October 2020

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READING LUKE 10.38-end (NIV)

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 few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

REFLECTION

I use a digital diary to organise my time and I imagine Martha’s diary would be a little like mine. She is busy, I imagine her to have a diary full of scribbles, notes, lists, appointments, and tasks she needs to complete, rushing from one thing to the next. Her sister, Mary is a complete opposite-she is the reflective one, sitting a Jesus’ feet.

Thousands of sermons must have been preached on this passage. Sermons about spiritual priorities, our need to learn, making the most of our time with Jesus, all compare Martha’s preoccupation and her busyness with Mary’s keenness to be with Jesus. It can be easy to learn negative things from Martha.

That is until we read about her in the Gospel of John. Chapter 11. 1-44. The context now is a sad one. Their much-loved brother Lazarus has died, and Jesus failed to arrive in time to heal him. And this time it is Martha who rushes to be with Jesus. Martha sees Jesus approaching outside the village she longs for his help. And their conversation enfolds. Martha says ‘yes, Lord…I believe. So, whatever previous impression the Gospels might have given us of Martha, her real character is underlined in this profound statement of faith…I believe. Martha is a complex character she is preoccupied with daily life, but she also is a person of great faith and trust. She takes her responsibilities very heavily and is often weighed down, but she is also full of insight and vision about what God can do.

I was powerfully reminded of Mary & Martha when I was on my pre-ordination retreat-those to be priested should have gone away together for a few days-for periods of teaching, silence, and prayer.

Last year, as soon to be Deacons we stayed at Buckfast Abbey. This year plans were changed, and we met over a few days on Zoom. So, I was left with a decision, do I check myself into the Premier Inn on the Retail Park and have ‘alone time with God and no distractions’-Be a Mary. Or do I stay at home amongst the many distractions-juggling being mom, wife, trying not to look at emails or do work related tasks, let alone answering the question-what’s for tea?, where is my whatever?, and so on… as well as prepare myself spiritually.

I chose to stay at home, I chose to be a Martha and very soon realised that was where I was meant to be-in the busyness and in the ordinary of my everyday life.

Life is so busy-whether we are parenting, working, studying, or retired. Those in our community who have been busy preparing to re-open our churches for services or those that prepared my recent Ordination Service know that. Martha accepts her complexity and shows us that what matters most is the faith that God gives us, opens a central belief that Jesus is Lord. She sees God in the ordinary, in the busyness and in the mess of everyday life. And so can we, if we stop, take a pause, take a breath and turn our gaze.

THE COLLECT (alternative)

Gracious God,
you call us to fullness of life:
deliver us from unbelief
and banish our anxieties
with the liberating love of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen