Thursday, May 29, 2008

I want to share with you part of a mediation I wrote on Martha for a retreat this weekend: As we think about how we encounter Christ, I want to turn to the Scriptures to look at an encounter between Christ and Martha of Bethany.
As they [Jesus and the disciples] continued their journey he entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary (who) sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me." The Lord said to her in reply, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her." Luke 10:38-42
Martha is a good and faithful woman, performing the duties that were expected of her. Jesus sees her efforts and loves her for them, but he invites her to set aside her concerns and enter into a deeper relationship. Like the rich young man who is too attached to his material possessions to surrender to God, Martha is too attached to duties and expectations to surrender. Maybe she is also attached to what others will think of her. We do not hear what she did after this – did she too let go of her concerns, her attachments and sit attentively at the feet of Jesus? Or did she maybe sit at his feet while still trying to cling to her attachments, half listening to his words, glancing anxiously back at the kitchen and wondering what they would do about a meal. Or looking nervously at the men around her, wondering if they were offended by her presumptuousness of sitting at the feet of the Master with the men, trying to be like one of the disciples. Would they tell the others in the village? What would the other women say? Imagine her unhappiness, wanting to be with Jesus and yet pulled away by the things that were distracting her, filling her mind. Imagine her sorrow once he was gone and she thought, if only I had taken more time to be with him.

OR did she freely give her heart over to the Lord, letting go of her attachments? Which story is yours? Do you find yourself free to give your whole heart to God or are you caught up in your attachments? What are your attachments? We all have them – for some they are material possessions, for others doubt. For some the attachment is a matter of letting their identities get caught up in their performance of certain roles – at work, as a parent, even as a member on a church committee! Are there areas where you lack the courage to trust God with all of the details of your life?

What would it take for you to let go of your concerns and spend some time sitting at the feet of the Lord? Surely Martha learned to do this over the course of her time with Jesus, because the Gospel of John tells us that when her brother Lazarus dies, she is able to profess her faith and belief, stating:
"Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world." John 11:27

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