At the Home of Martha and Mary
38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 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!”
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Mary: Attention to the Living Word
Jesus said Mary chose better. She chose being near and listening to Jesus over preparing the meal. While Martha wanted to get things done, Mary felt that some things were worth stopping for—especially Jesus.
Both sisters were trying to love the Lord. Martha loved Jesus with her activity and her attention to the details. Mary loved him by dropping everything else and sitting at his feet and listening.
When God shows up, we need to drop what we're doing and be present in the moment. What we need to remember during this Thanksgiving week is that it is often during life’s most hectic moments that God's presence hovers nearest to us.
I will be blessed this year to have my mother coming down to spend Thanksgiving here in Mansfield. As I think back to the holidays of my childhood, I give thanks that we were able to spend them with my Mom’s Mom, Jennie Gertrude Johnson Stromberg. My Grandma was trained in the art of elocution and when we were together, she shared with us some incredible stories that she had memorized. One of them, Unawaresby Emma A. Lent, ties in with the Mary and Martha story. It was written early last century. I share it with you as I remember and give thanks for my Grandma, the best combination of Martha and Mary I have ever known.
They said, "The Master is coming
To honor the town to-day,
And none can tell at what house or home
The Master will choose to stay."
And I thought while my heart beat wildly,
What if He should come to mine,
How would I strive to entertain
And honor the Guest Divine!
And straight I turned to toiling
To make my house more neat;
I swept, and polished, and garnished.
And decked it with blossoms sweet.
I was troubled for fear the Master
Might come ere my work was done,
And I hasted and worked the faster,
And watched the hurrying sun.
But right in the midst of my duties
A woman came to my door;
She had come to tell me her sorrows
And my comfort and aid to implore,
And I said, "I cannot listen
Nor help you any, today;
I have greater things to attend to."
And the pleader turned away.
But soon there came another—
A cripple, thin, pale and gray—
And said, "Oh, let me stop and rest
A while in your house, I pray!
I have traveled far since morning,
I am hungry, and faint, and weak;
My heart is full of misery,
And comfort and help I seek."
And I cried, "I am grieved and sorry,
But I cannot help you today.
I look for a great and noble Guest,"
And the cripple went away;
And the day wore onward swiftly—
And my task was nearly done,
And a prayer was ever in my heart
That the Master to me might come.
And I thought I would spring to meet Him,
And serve him with utmost care,
When a little child stood by me
With a face so sweet and fair—
Sweet, but with marks of teardrops—
And his clothes were tattered and old;
A finger was bruised and bleeding,
And his little bare feet were cold.
And I said, "I'm sorry for you—
You are sorely in need of care;
But I cannot stop to give it,
You must hasten otherwhere."
And at the words, a shadow
Swept o'er his blue-veined brow,—
"Someone will feed and clothe you, dear,
But I am too busy now."
At last the day was ended,
And my toil was over and done;
My house was swept and garnished—
And I watched in the dark—alone.
Watched—but no footfall sounded,
No one paused at my gate;
No one entered my cottage door;
I could only pray—and wait.
I waited till night had deepened,
And the Master had not come.
"He has entered some other door," I said,
"And gladdened some other home!"
My labor had been for nothing,
And I bowed my head and I wept,
My heart was sore with longing—
Yet—in spite of it all—I slept.
Then the Master stood before me,
And his face was grave and fair;
"Three times to-day I came to your door,
And craved your pity and care;
Three times you sent me onward,
Unhelped and uncomforted;
And the blessing you might have had was lost,
And your chance to serve has fled."
"O Lord, dear Lord, forgive me!
How could I know it was Thee?"
My very soul was shamed and bowed
In the depths of humility.
And He said, "The sin is pardoned,
But the blessing is lost to thee;
For comforting not the least of Mine
You have failed to comfort Me."
Gracious God, Help us to recognize you in the least and the lost. Help us to recognize you in the best and the brightest. Enable us to drop whatever it is we need to drop so that we might be present in the moment; ready to listen to what you are telling us and to go where you are sending us. Thank you for the Marys and the Marthas in our lives. Bless us this day, as we focus on drawing closer to you. In Jesus’ name, we pray. AMEN.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.