Friday, May 29, 2009
I have (or I should say had) three sisters. My sister Pegi died in 1990 from cancer - a cancer which began as cervical cancer. My oldest sister (Sherry) is 17 years older than my youngest (Betsy). I think of how different we all are, and yet we also share many common characteristics. All of my sisters have advanced degrees and have made a mark in their chosen fields. All of us have committed ourselves to the support and empowerment of Native people. When Pegi died, the school where she taught was out in full force for her funeral, and they offer a scholarship in her name. Two of us had children at relatively young ages, and two of us were more mature when our children arrived. Two are Marys and two are Marthas. Being one of the Marthas, I struggle with this passage more than most. If Mary had been in the kitchen helping her sister, well, they would have been ready before Jesus got there. And maybe, just maybe, if they had been ready, Martha could have relaxed along with Mary. She could have broken the taboos, like her sister, and sat with all the men. She might have opened her heart to the love of her Savior rather than fussing and worrying about what was not done. And maybe, just maybe,Martha got too caught up in the tasks, and didn't recognize the world shattering, barrier breaking, life transforming invitation that was coming from Jesus - to let go of women's work and sit with the men to receive the living word of God.
" Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. 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.’ But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things;there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.’" Luke 10:38-42
It is often too easy for those of us who are hard wired as Marthas to let go of the details, and rest in the company of Jesus. He does not gauge our worthiness by how much work we do, or how much we accomplish. Jesus considers us all worthy. Worthy to sit in the places where women did not once belong. Jesus says we are worthy to take our place in church leadership and governance, despite the culture and context, and regardless of our race, gender or orientation. Jesus just asks us to come in and be part of the living word of God, which is transforming, healing and grace. Jesus asks us all to put down our lists and take up our hearts, so that we might listen to the needs of others across the world. Jesus offers us love which spans all barriers and we would forget it, so that we can get our work done. Jesus asks us to sit and listen until we know and are able to do the work of God.
Today, as I dive into the packing process, I want to listen to Jesus. The tasks feel overwhelming. There is so much to do. And in this transition time, I want to focus on what Jesus would have me do and where he would send me. This Martha needs to learn to be more of a Mary in this season. May we all choose the better part, to listen and be loved by God.