Day 5 – A Month with Mary and Martha
“As Jesus and his disciples went on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.” Luke 10:38
You know, if Martha hadn’t opened her home to Jesus, Mary wouldn’t have had the chance to sit at his feet. Sure, Mary made a good choice to listen to Jesus teach. But that was a direct result of Martha’s choice to invite him in.
Today is Sunday, a Mary-day. The Sabbath was designed to be a time for us to sit at Jesus’ feet; to listen to his teaching; to set aside distractions and worries for awhile. For it to be possible for us to have a Mary-day, there has to be a lot of Martha-preparation. The janitor cleans, the secretary prints bulletins, the pastor writes a sermon, the musicians practice songs, the sound man checks the mics, teachers study the lessons, somebody makes coffee, somebody unlocks the doors and turn on the lights, somebody prays. Mary-days just don’t happen without Martha-preparation. The key lies in the first three letters of that word.
Pre: a prefix meaning prior to, in advance of, beforehand. So, preparations are supposed to be done beforehand. Imagine the janitor vacuuming the sanctuary during the opening prayer; or the secretary printing bulletins during the praise singing; or the musicians having to start over several times. Imagine a pastor stopping during his sermon and saying, “Excuse me folks, I’ll be right back. Hold tight while I run into my office to write the end of this message.”
Martha was doing the right things, just at the wrong time.
Lesson to be learned: When Jesus shows up, leave the dishes in the sink.
Day 4 – A Month with Mary and Martha
You have to hand it to Martha, she knew where to go with her complaint: straight to Jesus. I like people who tell you what they are thinking. You don’t have to wonder about them. But when they start getting bossy, well, that’s another thing.
Here we have Martha giving the Son of the Living God marching orders: “Tell her to help me.” Reading this has made me wonder if my prayers don’t sound a little bossy sometimes. Instead of just praying, I may offer my expert advise on how to answer that prayer. In effect, I’m praying the answers I want to get. “God, here’s the problem and here’s how You should fix it.” Bossy.
I’ve always liked the way Jesus’ mother handled a stressful situation. The wine was running out at the wedding in Cana, which would have been a huge social embarrassment for the family. Mary just went to Jesus and told him the problem. “They have no more wine.” Period. Then she told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” That’s it. She didn’t lay out the options, didn’t make any suggestions, didn’t tell him what to do. She trusted he would do something, and left the details to him. I want to pray more like that. When I have a problem, I need to go straight to Jesus, tell him what’s going on and then be willing to do whatever He tells me.
Let’s keep this straight: He’s the boss and I am not.
Day 3 – A Month with M&M
Bible stories are famous for leaving the reader hanging. For instance, at the feeding of the 5,000, how did the disciples react to being on clean up duty? When Jesus raised the widow of Nain’s son from the dead it says, ” he sat up and began to talk”. Well? What in the world did he say?? And when the rich young ruler was challenged to sell all he had and follow the Master, did he do it, or not? I’d like to know!
As we continue our journey into the lives of Martha and Mary, we find another cliff hanger. Jesus gently rebuked Martha, commended Mary, and …..that’s it. The camera never panned over to Martha to get her reaction. Did she stomp out of the room? Did she burst into tears? Did she paste on a smile, go into the kitchen and slam all the cupboard doors? Or did Jesus’ words stop her in her tracks and cause her to go sit down by her sister? Did she bristle at first, but after looking into the loving eyes of Jesus soften and relax?
We have a lot of footage of home videos. Often, after supper, we would get out the video camera and tape the kids and their antics. One particular piece of film still haunts me to this day. The camera is focused on baby Jacob in his high chair doing something extremely cute. Then a sweet little voice is heard in the background saying, “Picture me, daddy! Picture me!” Jacob continues to charm the camera by blowing bubbles and doing “so big”. “Picture me, daddy! Picture me!” Jacob blows snot out of his nose and laughs. “Picture me, daddy! Daddy, picture me!” But the video never moves over to see what the sweet little voice is dying to show the camera. It breaks my heart every time.
Maybe we don’t get to see Martha’s parting camera shot because the Author and Perfecter is allowing us to say “picture me”. So how do you picture yourself in this closing frame?
Day 2 – A Month with M&M
My heart goes out to Martha, I admit. Her story could be mine many days. Here she was, faced with the Messiah on her doorstep. Oh, and his twelve disciples, too. Thirteen men showing up for supper? What sane homemaker wouldn’t freak out? What I find most unfortunate is that this is one day in the life of a wonderful woman. Think about it. What if your snapshot was taken on one of your most stressful days and that’s the profile picture that defined you for 2,000 years? How would you like it? Huh? Down through the annals of history, all the generations would ever know of you was how you came unraveled when trying to make a nice dinner for company. What would your Polaroid look like it if it captured you on your worst day?
When all four kids were little, I remember a day like that. I was in the kitchen making jam; up to my elbows in strawberries and sugar and Sure-Jel. I shooed the kiddos outside to play, but they kept coming in and out, slamming the screen door over and over. Someone ran in for a drink of water. SLAM. Someone needed a band-aid. SLAM. Someone tattled on someone else. SLAM. I warned them to stay outside and not to slam that door one more time. A few minutes later the doorbell rang. “Very funny,” I yelled. My voice rose, “If you come in here one more time….” Then I turned around to give the stink-eye to the smarty pants who dared to ring the bell, and behold, there was our next door neighbor, Adelaide, standing outside my screen door with a plate of cookies. The elderly woman had been enjoying watching the kids play in the yard and thought they might like a treat. Wince. Click. You’re on Candid Camera.
I’m not sure I’d appreciate being the topic of hundreds of sermons down through the ages based on that particular day. Know what I mean?
Day 1 – A Month with M&M
Welcome to a month with Mary and Martha. Or is it Martha and Mary? See, if we’re going to spend a whole month on 5 little verses, we’ll have to be pretty picky. So before we even get one word into the story, let’s figure this out. Every sermon I downloaded on Luke 10:38-42 is titled, “Mary and Martha”. Why does Mary get top billing, I wonder? It seems evident that Martha is the older sister, as the scripture states, “…a woman named Martha opened her home to him.” Her home. Not many women owned property back in those days. It leaves me wondering if perhaps the parents had died and the three siblings (Martha, Mary and brother Lazarus) were left with the house. Maybe Lazarus was too young to manage a home and Martha was more than capable of running a household. She was definitely in charge. Typically, the oldest is mentioned first: Cain and Abel, Peter and Andrew, James and John. Hmmm.
When I was little, we went to the Biddick and Rundell Picnic every summer. As the story goes, one day in the early 1800’s in Cornwall, England, Matthew and Mary Biddick took their 14 children to the beach for a Sunday picnic. As it happened, James and Betsy Rundell and their 14 children were also at the beach that day. Out of that meeting on the rocky shores of Cornwall, four of the Biddicks married four of the Rundells and they came to America together. Hence, the Biddick and Rundell Picnic every June.
After I got married and moved away from the area, I heard that attendance at the yearly gathering began to dwindle. After several years had passed, my brother went to the picnic, only to find that it had been renamed the Rundell and Biddick Picnic. Why? Because the Biddicks stopped showing up.
Showing up is important. Mary showed up at Jesus’ feet. Maybe that’s why her name comes first.
I love the Bible story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10. I love it so much that I’ve downloaded 20 sermons about the sisters on my ipod. I love it so much that I can practically recite it by heart. I love it so much that I’m making our women’s Bible study group focus on it for 12 weeks starting in September. (It’s one of the perks of being a Bible study leader – you get to pick what to study.)
Starting sometime in September, (not sure when yet; it’s one of the perks of writing a blog – you get to decided when to write) I plan to post a daily reflection on this little 5-verse, 7-sentence passage. Let’s just see how much we can squeeze out of this small section of scripture. For a whole month, let’s explore what M&M might have to say to us. You are welcome to stop in daily and join the conversation. (It’s one of the perks of reading blogs – you get to leave comments whenever you want.)