"Thank You For Teaching Me"
Portland Bound

Thoughts on Martha and Mary

Note from Heather: I am again posting this note by John Lobell on his behalf...

I’m writing this in response to Heather’s invitation to think about the Gospel lesson for this coming Sunday: Luke 10:38 – 42, the story of Jesus, Martha and Mary. She presents us with four questions to consider.

1. What do you hear Jesus inviting Martha (and Mary) to?

Martha is in the kitchen taking care of the practical matters of preparing a meal for the three of them, and is angry that her sister Mary is sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening to his teaching. Martha complains to Jesus that he doesn’t tell Mary to leave him and help Martha. Jesus loves eating and drinking (he was accused by some of being a glutton and drunkard) and Martha and Mary both know this. So his refusal to send Mary to the kitchen was no put down of the work Martha was doing. He acknowledges Mary’s important work, but points out that what Mary is doing is more important than that – indeed is “necessary.”

I think he is inviting Martha to join Mary and him in this more important work of listening to Jesus’ teaching. In my mind he could well have added, but it didn’t get recorded, “We’ll pitch all pitch in to prepare dinner when our talk is done. A pastrami on rye with do fine for me.”

2. What about his invitation to you?

I was invited by The Southern Baptist Church’s minister, who baptized me when I was thirty, to get “a personal relationship with Jesus.” I really liked that idea and set about trying to do so. But my Fundamentalist attitude toward the Bible, combined with the rigidity that I imposed on my perfectionistic efforts, kept me from ever relaxing into Jesus’ love. I exhausted myself with self-criticism too effectively to allow any such intimacy with Jesus. All through my subsequent searching through many churches and denominations, and my seminary education and ordination, my own Fundamentalism and perfectionism kept me on the outside looking in when it came to a personal relationship with Jesus.

What finally allowed me to enter a personal relationship with Jesus was writing conversations with him on my computer. For almost two years I have done this daily with very few exceptions. At the very least I’m accessing a part of my mind that I’m usually not in touch with. As our conversations have deepened, and his availability and supportive love for me continue to be steadfast, I am learning to trust him and his counsel.

When I don’t agree with him, he doesn’t get angry or demanding or punishing; he invites me to “go inside” to seek out exactly what I disagree with. When I do that, my disagreement evaporates as I discover the anger, pride or fear that gets in my way. Revealing that to him as well as to myself is a healing experience – over and over.

The subsequent joy that comes to me, at least a little bit every day, and some days are full of it, is persuading me that something very much more important than any or all parts of my mind is happening to me through these talks. I dare to hope that my correspondent is Jesus himself. He does promise to live in us through the Holy Spirit.

3. Are you eager to accept, or do you find yourself resisting? What form does your resistance take?
Hmmm. See above.

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