Devotions for the week of: August 26, 2020
Now as they went on their way, [Jesus] entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”
Whenever I read this story from the Spark Story Bible to our preschool classes during chapel, I tell them it has the funniest picture in the whole book. And then, with great dramatic flair, I turn to the page showing Martha madly balancing all of her tasks (you can see it here). The children always agree — it’s hilarious!
I get frustrated sometimes with the way we portray Martha: she’s trying to impress Jesus; she’s making a poor choice; she’s finding worth in what she does; she’s judging Mary; and, so on. Yes, there is some truth in all of those.
But I find that silly, simple Spark Story Bible picture to be a pretty accurate depiction of someone who is just trying to hold it all together. Someone who is desperately — and futilely — trying to maintain control. And so, it is a good portrayal of me, too.
We pastors think we have to hold it all together. Of course, we aren’t just making that up. It’s a real perception, a real pressure. Not just one we put on ourselves but one that is put on us (global pandemics do not exactly help that!).
As an ordained minister, I get to deliver the words of Jesus, so that others can simply sit passively, doing nothing, and listen to them. I get to proclaim week in and week out that Jesus takes all of the doing, all of the holding together, out of our hands and into his. But I also get to be the one who hears those words for myself. This good news is also for me, even pastor me. And it is true for you as well.
At first, Jesus, a guest in Mary and Martha’s home, turns the roles around and becomes the host. The host of his word of mercy and grace. The host of forgiveness. He takes on all the doing that is necessary. And leaves nothing left for Mary or Martha or us to do.
Pastor Erin Heidelberger
Zion Lutheran Church, Aberdeen
Gracious God, thank you for holding it all together. Thank you for the promise that your word of grace and mercy, the only truly needful thing, will not be taken away from me. Amen.
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