Why do we do what we do 2 .... stand up and sit down - Mary & Martha
Help us O Lord to always listen to your voice. In Jesus name we pray amen
The story of Mary and Martha.
This is a short but powerful incident which many if not all of us have heard before.
All of us I am sure can relate to the images used in the story. I don’t know what your house is like when someone is popping round for dinner, but with lots to be done, rooms cleaned, all the tasks to be done. I know that the ferris household grows quite frustrated. My sister is sitting in her bedroom ... my comment ... mum its not fair I have to do all the work. I am sure we are not unique.
There are a couple of things which need to be highlighted in the passage
Firstly we must remember that we could not function without Martha’s. Churches, families, organisations ... we really really couldn’t. People who clean, who cut hedges, who make tea, strawberry jam, scones. Who organise flower festivals, catering, flowers for church, sing in choirs, play instruments.
Taking it outside the church setting, our families couldn’t function without people doing the ironing, taking the rubbish out, providing lifts. For many people here we fulfill all of those role on our own, or share them with someone else.
Paying the Bills, juggling who we are perhaps as mum or dad, perhaps as grandparent, if we are a young person, keeping our friendships, juggling our school work, our extra curricular activities, keeping the house, maintaining the car. we are continually juggling lots of different jobs.
In Society today there are huge pressures on each of us which we need to hold all our tasks together. Martha’s are people who are on their feet and get jobs done. We need them!
Mary on the other hand had a different focus, her focus was Jesus.
In this passage Jesus comes in and mary sits at Jesus feet.
This position was in Jewish tradition was one of listening and learning. Paul the great rabbi sat at the feet of Gamaliel - to become a rabbi. To sit at the feet of a teacher was to give him priority, to give him complete attention and to say I want to be like you, i want to listen to you.
In that Culture, in that day it was not somewhere where you would expect to find a woman. In this section of Luke’s Gospel Jesus is opening up the kingdom of God to all. All are welcome to sit at Jesus’ feet
So often today we get distracted by many things - take for example listening, if we are listening intently we will hear things and remember them, but if our mind is distracted we may well be focusing on lots things we will not hear what is actually going on, what is important.
I wonder if you have been in a situation sitting round the table at the end of the day and your mind is somewhere else and those who are talking to you are , “blah, blah, blah, blah, blah,” and you nodding affirmatively at their words and thoughts, but you haven’t heard a word that they said.
Or have you ever been introduced to someone and your mind is racing so fast about everything else around you that you actually don’t hear their name at all, and so you ask their name again, and you hear their name like you had never heard it before. You actually totally did not hear their name the first time. Have you ever had that experience? I think so. Many of us, in our intense busyness of life, have lost the art of listening.
Just as listening is key to building relationships with those we encounter. How much more important is listening and indeed focusing on God in Life.
This incident in the life of Jesus - with the sisters - challenges us to pause, to think of which of the sisters we are more like. Are we prepared to take the time listen to God?,are we prepared to listen and read his word, are we prepared to pray and ask for his guidance for things we are doing?
We are challenged by this story to strike the balance between doing work, and pausing for teaching and reflection.
One of the things which struck me over the past week as I have been reflecting on these readings ... is our positions in church- we are either on our feet or sitting down.
Sometimes in church people get confused wether they should be standing or sitting.
As we sit or kneel (like Mary) in church -we do so to hear the Bible read, to listen to sermons, to reflect on prayers, in the communion service we kneel as we receive, at the blessing we receive the blessing. We are doing what Mary did Taking time out with God, to receive from him, and to listen to his teaching.
And as we get to our feet to come in to church, to work through the service (the word liturgy means work of the people), so we stand when we are active ... we stand as we praise God in hymns and psalms, when we are affirming our faith in him, and when we go out we get to our feet and go and get on with the work.
Jesus in his ministry - did do lots of things, he was on his feet day in day out but he also withdrew to listen to his heavenly father, to read scripture, to pray
Perhaps this week, in the busy-ness of our world - we need to do a bit more sitting at the feet of Jesus, reading from the Bible, Praying, asking him questions, meditating on his word.
And then as we take to our feet we will be doing thing out of the place of relationship with God and also knowing what attitude we do our work in.
Let us pray