What to do when the lectionary holds a mirror up to your life? I’m sitting here with a “to-do” list a mile long, and just as many things to ask you to get involved in: planning for our Oktoberfest & Health Fair, invitations to volunteer at Churchwide Assembly, working groups and committees in need of fresh energy. Then I read this Sunday’s gospel, the story of Jesus in the home of Mary and Martha:
“Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing.” [Luke 10:41-42]
It would be fun to say that Jesus thinks the world needs more Marys – but that is not the “one thing” he’s referring to. Jesus himself is the one thing. Easy to say, but hard to understand. Is it Jesus’ teachings that are needed, signified by Mary’s station at his feet? Is it Christ’s church that is needed, as the apostle Paul seems to suggest in this Sunday’s reading from Colossians [Colossians 1:15-28]? Or, do we even know?
The desire to know, to have an answer to the question, can be part of the problem. When relationships go from being an end in and of themselves to being a means to an end, then we turn people into objectives – one more thing to do, to check off the list. We would be better off following the example of Abraham and Sarah [Genesis 18:1-10], of Mary, who stopped to welcome a stranger, who sat at his feet and listened.