Pastor’s Blog October 11, 2016
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!"
"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."
As a young pastor I learned that it was important for a pastor to be well organized and punctual. A pastor has got to be on time for meetings with people. A pastor has got to organize the entire week knowing that a sermon will be required by the end of that week. Constructing sermons is both a very public and a very private endeavor. It is important to talk with people and to listen to people, to interact with others, to find out what concerns them and what makes them tick. And yet it is also important for a preacher to be alone, in quiet and in prayer.
A pastor needs to work hard to be available to people in need. You've got to be willing to go out in the middle of the night when there is some tragedy in your congregation. You've got to schedule your day in such a way that there is time to meet with all the people who require pastoral support and guidance. That's Martha.
And yet, a pastor must also be like Mary. Sometimes the most important thing a pastor does is not to do anything, but just to be there. That means that sometimes we are there just standing beside someone, not saying or doing anything, but simply present with them.
As I say, part of me is like Martha busy, organized, goal-oriented, moving forward, getting the job done. And yet part of me is also like Mary quiet, reflective, solitary, and simply sitting there, meditatively.
And what I'm saying is what this story of Jesus at the home of Mary and Martha teaches us is that Jesus blesses both sides of our personality. The Christian life involves times of frenetic activity. But the Christian life also involves times of quiet meditation.
Frankly, it is a bit of a surprise to see Jesus bless Mary, who simply sits there and listens to Jesus. For so much of the Gospels, Jesus is always calling people to get up and to follow him, to walk with him, to give a cup of cold water in his name, reach out to those in need, go, do, work, and act. But here, Jesus also blesses Mary, that part of us that simply wants to be with Jesus, to enjoy his presence, to sit at his feet and to drink in his every word, to adore him and to praise him.
Following Jesus is a demanding task. Sometimes it takes energy, resourcefulness, and lots of bold, hard work. And sometimes it means simply being with him, listening to him, enjoying him, and hanging on his every word.
That evening, Jesus did not simply go to the home of Mary and avoid Martha. He did not talk to one sister and ignore the other. He loved and blessed them both by his presence with them both. Teaching both of the sisters, he blessed them both as his disciples.
And so he blesses us.