The assigned gospel text for this Sunday is about a visit Jesus made to the home of two sisters named Mary and Martha. It reminded me of something my maternal Grandmother told us years ago about her Father’s visits to her house. It seemed that my Mama and her baby sister Mary, as the two youngest girls in the family, would be charged with cleaning up and getting ready for “Papa’s” visit. Grandma Lula said that my Mom (James Ella) was always a very obedient child and would work hard at whatever task assigned her, that is, until Grandpa Governor arrived. After that, she said “it was like pulling teeth to get James Ella to move from Papa’s feet. She’d cling to him and hang on every word he would say.” It seems that Aunt Mary would often complain to Grandma Lula that “James Ella is not helping with the things that still needed to be done.” Grandma Lula said, the only time she ever got a compliant about Mama not pulling her weight with chores was when Papa was around. You probably can see why the gospel story reminded me of this story from my past.
This story also reminded me of how important relationships are; how important it is to take time working on them and enjoying them. In Luke’s account of this story, Martha was busy preparing for their guest (Jesus) and there was much to do in her mind to make His visit a hospitable one. Mary, on the other hand, just clung to Him, hanging on His every word. Martha complains to Jesus about Mary’s lack of help and Jesus says to her “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen what is best …”
Preparing good hospitality is always important; but if it distracts us from developing the important relationships in our lives and learning to love our neighbors as ourselves, then we are missing the point. In all of the violence we are experiencing in our neighborhoods, our country and our world, I wonder how different things would be if we, like Mary, would choose what is best (loving others and relationship building.)
Join us at Covenant this Sunday for Worship. I will be taking a different view of Martha than most preachers who will preach on this story in my sermon “An Invitation To Choose What’s Best” based on the story of Mary, Martha and Jesus found in “Luke 10:38-42.”