The better part
The lectionary offers another familiar text today — the charming story of Martha and Mary, two sisters who respond very differently when Jesus comes for a visit.
I’m preaching at the Wild Goose Festival in North Carolina this morning on this text. My sermon is called “All the Marys.” If the technology works out, I’ll send you the recorded version this evening as a “Sunday Evening Musing.”
In the meanwhile, enjoy this short tale from the Gospel of Luke and the poems below.
As Jesus and his disciples 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."
And this is what you want,
what you long for.
Not the elaborate
preparations we would make,
not ourselves swept and
scrubbed to perfection,
our acts and our
in lifeless rows,
but to be, here in this light,
to be, here at your feet
— Andrea Skevington, from “Mary, sister of Martha, at your feet for the first time,” Link to the entire poem HERE
Martha knows the dinner will not cook itself.
Mary feels the moment swiftly passing.
Martha knows each thing has its place.
Mary notices how each thing changes with the light.
Martha knows a word from him would change things.
Mary turns the words like honeyed almonds in her mouth.
Martha knows the kitchen turned temple,
The pot of stew a thurible, filling every empty space.
Mary listens with a thirst that frightens her
For something that makes no sound.
— Emily Rose Proctor, “To each her own”