Mary and Martha both heard my alarm at 6:00 this morning. I’m not sure which one it was who turned it off, but I do know that it was Martha who dragged me out of bed and got me moving forty minutes later. Clothing appropriate to the day was chosen, some semblance of breakfast eaten, lunch was packed, and it was off to work.
Mary made a brief appearance while I was driving to work. She reflected on the Easter weekend that has just passed, the fact that this was a new day and as it says in a popular song from the 70’s Every Morning Is Easter Morning From Now On! I think she even hummed a little bit of the tune. Once in view of the school, though, Martha took over again with thoughts about what my students would be doing today and errands I needed to get done.
Last night the devotion in The Message\\Remix:Solo was about the familiar story from Luke 10:38 – 42 of a dinner party at the home of Mary, and Martha. Jesus was the guest of honour and as he talked with his host and the other guests, Mary sat taking it all in with rapt attention. In the meantime there was a meal to prepare! Martha, unlike Mary, did not give herself the time to sit down and listen, she was busy tending to the preparations. When Martha complains about Mary’s lack of help, Jesus tells her that Mary has made the better choice by staying with him and listening.
Martha is not the “evil twin” here. If it were not for Martha, Jesus would not have even been in their home. It states at the beginning of the reading, “A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him (Jesus) and made him feel quite at home.” It takes a special talent to put someone at ease in your home when they are visiting, and Martha did a great job of that. She then got carried away, though, by the minutia of hostessing the party and did not sit down to enjoy her guest’s company.
We are all some combination of these two women, or if you prefer some combination of these two inclinations. I started this blog with a representation of my day through the lens of the two women. That was one part of the devotion last night, taking time to reflect and let Jesus tell us whether we are more Mary or Martha on a given day or in a given experience. Some Sundays I am definitely Martha at church. I have responsibilities, music to worry about, plans and issues for later in the day, and my Martha is on the job. Worship is so much better on the days when my Mary attends and I am able to fully engage in the word and the celebration. On the average day I am more Martha, although my house may not reflect that in its cleanliness and tidiness, and I expect that is true for most of us.
If we were all Mary all the time nothing much would get done in our homes or workplaces. I’m not sure even a 50/50 split would be ideal, but we do need to beware of the dangers of slipping too far over to the Martha. If we give no time to listening to God, the three-in-one, then we risk losing our way in a world just looking for lost souls of whom to take advantage. So, look back at your day today. What was your own Martha/Mary balance like?