Thursday, September 13, 2012

Martha, Martha

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things! 42 But few things are necessary, or only one thing, for Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10)

33 Whoever listens to me will dwell in security

    and rest securely from dread and disaster.”
My child, if you will receive my sayings,

    and hide my commands with you,
in order to incline your ear toward wisdom,

    then you shall apply your heart to understanding.
For if you cry out for understanding,

    if you lift your voice for insight,
if you seek her like silver

    and search her out like treasure,
then you will understand the fear of Yahweh,

    and the knowledge of God you will find.
For Yahweh will give wisdom;

    from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” (Prov 1,2)

Before there was facebook, I had no idea of the epidemic proportions of worry in our country.  Each day it is veritable pool of angst, need and complaint.  Even the requests for prayer sound desperate to my ears.

Maybe our enlightened, scientific, Western minds have shrunk God. We rarely think of ourselves this way anymore but we are beings of worship.  The altar of our lives, the throne will be occupied.  Either by the true, benevolent Father who loves us or by a tyrant of our own choosing.  When God becomes small in our minds; problems, cares, responsibilities, even religious duties become disproportionately big, eclipsing the Son in our eyes, hearts and lives. 

This is no small matter.  We can shunt God to a corner on Sunday morning but we do so to our detriment and we miss out on so much.  Our God is a jealous God who will not share His throne or His wife, His child or His people with another.  Particularly as He knows how abusive, how dehumanizing, how destructive our mistress is!  No one can love us like Jesus loves us!  If we would, like Mary but fall at his feet…

Blessed be the person who trusts in Yahweh,

    and Yahweh is his trust.
For he will be like a tree planted by water,

    and to the stream it sends its roots,

and it will not fear when heat comes,

    and its leaves will be luxuriant,

and in the year of drought it will not be anxious,

    and it will not cease from the bearing of fruit.” (Jer 17)

Hot on the heels of all this talk of hospitality and deeds showing what is in the heart.  Almost as if God knows our propensity toward faith by works, we have this homely story of Martha and Mary.  Martha is doing nothing evil.  She’s trying to provide for her guests, a bunch of scruffy Galileans from out of town and their itinerant rabbi.  She’s arranging their lodging, maybe, their dinner, perhaps.  Good things.  Things that show a servant’s heart.  Things which Jesus blesses.

But Jesus… Jesus has other priorities.  When he was thirsty by the well in Samaria (John 4) he asked for a drink.  This sparked a conversation with the Samaritan woman.  The conversation sent the woman running home to bring her neighbors to meet Jesus.  The people came and Jesus taught them.  Did Jesus ever get the drink??  It doesn’t matter.  Jesus has other priorities.  32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 33 So the disciples began to say to one another, “No one brought him anything to eat, did they?” 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is that I do the will of the one who sent me and complete his work.” (John 4)  Jesus isn’t worried about getting fed.  Martha could place the most exquisite kosher, culinary masterpiece ever concocted in all Judea and he would be no more honored than if she had nuked some mac and cheese after he was done teaching.  He will accept it, knowing it is her form of worship perhaps but his choice of the words “better part” when referring to Mary’s posture clearly shows which honors him and blesses us more.  This is a guy who could turn stones to bread, water to wine and multiply food with a touch.  Something tells me Martha may have missed a miracle for trying to create one herself! 

Her fear of people’s opinions of her.  Her identity wrapped up in her good name and honor as a hostess lead her to anger at Mary’s lack of participation.  Which leads to her shrewish behavior before her guests.  Sin upon sin.  But worst of all, it causes her to miss out on God in her midst!  In her very living room! 

The most often repeated commandment in the Word is, “Fear not!”  What are we missing by ignoring this commandment?

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