mary and martha
Martha was a disciple of Jesus, and she loved, supported, and hosted him for dinner, as friends do. Yet Martha, like all of us, sometimes became bogged down by the details of her hospitality, and as a result, lost sight of the presence of the God she was serving — the God who was literally right in front of her. In my own story I, too, failed to encounter God when God was right in front of me, present in my friends, distracted as I was by the details of my hospitality.
Just to get it out there, this story about Mary and Martha has always irritated me, because I think Martha is awesome, and she’s always made out to be a busy-body and a whiner.
See, Jesus is welcomed into the home of Mary and Martha and the thing to understand is that Jesus didn’t exactly travel alone. Dude had an entourage — so to welcome Jesus is to welcome who Jesus brings in with him. And to extend hospitality to that many people takes a lot of work, so Martha becomes understandably overwhelmed by her tasks and tries to get Jesus to talk her sister Mary into helping her, since Mary up until this point has only been sitting at Jesus’ feet listening. Jesus tells Martha that Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.
It is a lovely late afternoon in the little village of Bethany on a hilltop outside Jerusalem. This is a delightful place to visit because it offers a breeze above the valley. But Jesus stops here often for more than that. He knows he has friends in the persons of Martha and her siblings, Mary and Lazarus.
This day, as the family of Bethany looks down the road, they see Jesus and some of his disciples approaching. They know there will be time for conversation and food and rest before this group heads on into Jerusalem.
After a flurry of greetings, Martha is off to organize the meal. In a world without freezers or the possibility of takeout, unexpected guests can cause a bit of a stir.