Sunday, December 15, 2013

A Chosen Part

After reading my Bible the other morning,
I guess my mind drifted off.
I wasn't reading anything about them,
but I found myself daydreaming about Mary and Martha,
just pondering what happened that day.

Now it happened as they went 
that He entered a certain village; 
and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house.
And she had a sister called Mary, 
who also sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word.
But Martha was distracted with much serving,
and she approached Him and said, 
"Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? 
Therefore tell her to help me." 
And Jesus answered and said to her, 
"Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. 
But one thing is needed, 
and Mary has chosen that good part, 
which will not be taken away from her."

I have heard many teachings on this over the years,
usually at women's events.
And while mentally I gave assent to the need to sit at His feet and hear Him,
I have always had this confused appreciation for Martha's position.
I mean, the woman just had Jesus and His entourage drop in for food and rest.
What: is she supposed to let the food prepare itself?
Mary's not helping -- how will it get done?
How does Martha even have a choice in it?
And, being the woman of my house,
and the oldest of a large family
(where I was often pressed into service I would happily have forgone
to sit with people and talk),
I sympathize with Martha's annoyance at her sister.
So it's with some troubled crinkling of my brow
that I ponder this story, always.

Martha was engaged in frantic service of her own contriving 
for the purpose of caring for the Lord.
I have to conclude from what Jesus said to her,
that she chose her part.
This is obviously a woman who does much.
A hospitable woman.
A woman with food on hand.
She is a responsible lady.
And as I thought about her, I thought,
Surely she had some pita and hummus on hand.
Olive oil for dipping.
A bowl of olives.
A store of wine.
Dates. Almonds... you get the idea.
But I think she wanted to Pinterest out the spread.
And her zeal for tasks she chose for herself
was making her angry and judgmental,
and keeping her from His presence.

Jesus said Mary had chosen a better part.
She had chosen quietness at His feet.
Open ears.
Fellowship while it was available.

Martha had a misplaced urgency.
The time was short, but it wasn't meal time that was the pressing matter.
It was time spent with Him before He was gone from them.
She became a critic in her self-ordered anxiety to serve.
She pointed her finger, and unleashed her tongue,
and complained about her sister.
And idle Mary, who wanted to hear Him,
heard Him defend her presence at His feet.

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