Dear Uniting Church Friends,
Welcome to this week’s Prayerful and Pastoral Reflections.
There are many stories of hospitality in the gospels. In today’s story, Jesus and his entourage land upon sisters Martha and Mary, resulting in different responses from the two sisters. Martha prepares the food, whilst Mary sits and listens.
Many people find this story annoying, perhaps because it appears Jesus is being unduly critical of Martha for doing the hard work of hospitality. Picking one sister, it would seem, as a favourite over the other.
Remembering that Jesus is the one who later washes the disciples feet, we can reflect more deeply about the role of Martha and the predicament she finds herself in. In his word to Martha, Jesus is challenging expectations around who is responsible for hospitality. With an attitude of love, he wants to break down the gendered expectations and free Martha for the most important thing, thus including her in the primary purpose of the community. Bill Loader puts it like this:
“Luke’s story is making a point about attitudes, which can be just as well male as female. It is when practical tasks assume dimensions which subvert best intentions. Being too worried about the arrangements may subvert the purpose of the visit. It is a close cousin to bureaucracy and legalism: being so worried about doing the right thing that what really needs to be done, is left undone or is done poorly. Martha might end up never hearing Jesus’ word.”
Remembering the “most important thing” is something for us all to reflect upon in our society that is filled with expectations and distractions. Remembering our priorities as individuals and as a community is crucial to fulfilling the purpose of love in the work of hospitality.
We are a prayerful community,
and we invite you to find
a quiet moment to meditate
with these words and stories.
Love and Blessings to you all.
Charles and Kerrie.