1 or 2 — or is it 3 — storms ago we gathered around the table Sunday morning. Although it was Daylight Savings Sunday and we’d jumped ahead an hour no one was an hour late, it was impressive I must say. So we began as we do, gathering, praying and of course — checking in.
Our homework during the prior week had been to reflect on when we have been able to really bless God in loss and/or bless God after loss. This reflection included if we realized we had been able to do this, how did we get there, and if we had not to ponder what stands in the way?
Every single person checked in. Some shared they felt they had a rather blessed life, and individually had not found it hard to bless God — however, when then consider the devastation and oppression and violence and war in the world this becomes much much harder. There was the perspective of losing not life but an identity — a job. Another named that when first going through a devastating loss they were not able to bless God, it was more going though additional losses and knowing God had brought them through (including through on their own journey with God) that they were able to bless God because God had been faithful in the past. Other voices named that it was and it is hard. Some still have questions of loss that is heavy/deep and relatively recent. There was insight given in a poem that had proven comforting over the years with language of God leading us through circumstances, understanding there is not avoidance but there is One with us through it all.
The conversation was rich. Honest. We spent a bit more time listening to the stories of who we are. And in what can only properly be understood of how the Holy Spirit moves in delightful ways, the final voice checking-in shared how God had been faithful through a trying time in their life & had given comfort through the passage of Mary & Martha….the very passage we were considering for the day — Look at God! So we turned to the passage and read,
Jesus Visits Martha and Mary
38 Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. 40 But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so 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.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; 42 there is need of only one thing.[a] Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.” (New Revised Standard Version)
We hear the scripture twice. And it is worth nothing the tender way that the second reader rendered the “Martha, Martha,” that Jesus spoke. The conversation I anticipate will continue this Sunday, but we did engage how some love and some distinctly do not like this passage. There are so many (gender) expectations engaged here. Martha doing what she needed — the expected preparations, the preparations that allowed Jesus to come. Mary doing the unexpected — and likely the unwelcome — putting herself in a man’s place — as a disciple at Jesus feet (the audacity! THANKS BE TO GOD!). And yet, let us think about who we are typically as Christians….(Martha). But even when this was observed using the very stories that had been told in the check-in, calling out our collective Martha-like tendencies, the observation was met with an immediate — “NOT ME! I’m a Mary!”
So we were lively — which is delightful — and we were honest too that there are elements of Martha and Mary within each of us (like it or not!). And all too soon of course, we arrived at homework time. The homework is to engage more of our Mary. To each day this week sit at the feet of Jesus. If it helps you can try to figure out what the one necessary thing — the only thing — the better part — that Jesus invites us to know, to enjoy, to follow — and to do that. To sit at Jesus feet, to find the necessary thing and do it and to see what happens in the sitting and in the doing.
Excited for the coming check-in & praying shalom in the process ~
Rev. Sabrina Slater