Thursday, 24 April 2008

Martha, Martha

But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
Luke 10:40-42

I love this picture of Velásquez's Christ in the House of Martha and Mary. Look at Martha's face; she's not just cross, she's simmering with resentment. I can't help but feel this is what the real Martha would have looked like all of those years ago and I look at that face and I see my own, I know what she feels like because of all the women in the Bible I identify with it's Martha! She's invited Christ into her home but everyone else in the household is taking advantage of the moment and not helping her in the kitchen. It's she who does the inviting, but she doesn't get to partake in hearing His words, as she has to make bread and serve wine and goodness knows what else a woman had to do in Biblical times to fulfill ideals of hospitality. I look at that face and see a woman who wishes she'd cleaned the skirting boards before Christ came to visit.

Poor old Martha, I really can empathize with what she's going through! But, bless her, it's her own fault isn't it! She's got her priorities all wrong, she spends a once in a life time opportunity being the "hostess with the mostest" and then getting quite angry about it all. Mary knew that Christ's visit was about listening to, and learning, something wonderful, groundbreaking and important, and she did just that...but listening and learning are so hard to do properly, it takes a bit of effort to come out of your rut and really listen to what Christ has to tell us. Sometimes it's easier to stay in the kitchen and then moan about your lot in life .

So where am I going with all of these musings? Well, today I went to mid-week Holy Communion for the first time in months and months, afterwards I went for a coffee with some church friends and we had a really great time. Communion was great (old fashioned, quiet BCP) and the vicar talked about how it is easy to see faith as simply following a set of rules, as behaving in a certain way, when really it's all about following Christ and wanting to know and love Christ. The reading was from John "I am the way, the truth and the life..." and the conversation afterwards was in turn, both serious and hilarious. So I'd been missing out on mid-week Communion and fellowship when I could have been having all of these things every week! Why? Well because I had skirting boards to clean and ironing to do, bathrooms to clean, bread to bake...I just didn't have the time to spare..."I was cumbered with much serving". But being "cumbered" is often a state of mind, I do have the time to spare, the ironing (and even the skirting boards lol!) although important, can wait, "as but one thing is needful" I hope now that I shall view my home-life with a little more balance, keeping my inner Martha in check and letting my inner Mary shine through because, as so our saviour sayeth "Mary hath chosen the good part."


Anonymous said...

*sigh* I think balance in the Christian life is a life-long battle with the flesh!

I enjoyed reading your thoughts, as always. (o:


Anonymous said...

Beautifully put. I too sympathise with Martha, wanting to be seen as the ‘hostess with the mostest.

I think Luther was rather harsh when he said "Martha your work must be punished and regarded for nothing.. I do not want any work but Mary's, and that is faith." but there is a modicum of truth in his words, I so often want to impress by my works rather than resting in that Sabbath rest we find for our soul in Jesus Christ Who is never impressed by our works but loves us right where we are.

There is a simple reference to Martha in John’s gospel, where it is written: ‘a dinner was given in Jesus' honour. Martha served,’ (John 12:2) For me I sense peace for Martha here in her role as hostess, not to impress but to express her love for her Lord.

Quoting again, Mother Theresa said, “There is always the danger that we may just do the work for the sake of the work. This is where the respect and the love and the devotion come in - that we do it to God, to Christ, and that's why we try to do it as beautifully as possible”.

Like you I have put house-work before my relationship with Christ, my actions show I place more importance on improving a messy house is more important than a messy heart.

Dulce Domum said...

Hi Michele
You're so right...and the "flesh" bit just creeps up on you when you don't realize it.

Do you ever find Martha Stewart's first name amusing?

Hi Linnet
LOL! Luther didn't pull his punches did he! I do think impressing people by "works" is an easier (perhaps why I keep choosing it) path to the short term...Thank you for the passage from John, very simple, good old Martha *did* take heed...

I thought to myself yesterday how many other Christian mothers have the opportunity to go to a mid-week church service *alone* and meet with friends afterwards. I was ignoring this opportunity, just in case the window cleaner came and thought my house was messy!

Sunday services can be quite hectic for us with small(ish) children to organize, sometimes I think it's a miracle we get there on time at all! And, also when we get there, the DH and the eldest rush in to put their cassocks and whites on, I'm sorting out the little one, who just wants to find her chums in the toy the time it comes to worship I have a red face and a slight pain above my left temple...mid-week communion is a treat!

Anonymous said...

Hahahahaha sorry truly laughing out loud you have window cleaner stress too? By gum everytime he appears I run round to make sure the house looks tidy. And everytime I ask myself why I want to impress a window cleaner that disturbingly (for a man who climbs ladders) smells faintly of alcohol and couldn't give two hoots about the tidiness of a home! He's hardly going to do the Anthea Turner white glove test, (not that I'd let him in). :) Hehehe, much cheered now dearie.

Cassocks? Are they in the choir? We have a noisy children's corner. Although we have a children's church too so I do usually get to hear the preaching...although sometimes we have a child related issue which means I have to go out too.

I noticed my last sentence didn't make sense it should have read:
Like you I have put house-work before my relationship with Christ, my actions show I place more importance on improving a messy house than a messy heart.

We have a few mothers who meet at the Tuesday service and grandmothers who care for children while mothers work. It's nice.

Do you have a mother/toddler group at your church? We have one, well it should really be called grandmother/childminder/mother and toddler/baby/any group (but then it'd be a loooong title!); our assistant pastor goes too on the pretext of 'evangelism/pastoring' but really I think he just likes to do the crafts ;). But this is a wonderful group, grannies and childminders too get a little starved for adult conversation during the week.

I never thought of Martha Stewart like that...Anthea Turner I think is rather Martha like and scarily bossy.

Dulce Domum said...

Hi Linnet
Oh, we have a junior church too...I'm just moaning! lol! The kiddies go out after the first prayer and during the first hymn, and the little 'un has gone past that stage of wanting me to go with her so I'm very lucky. They come back to be blessed and all go up to the rail together. After communion, during the final prayers and hymns they tend to play in the kiddies corner, but I'm trying to get the little 'un to sit nicely and do the Lord's prayer with the rest of us! Then they all wave flags as the choir and the vicar process out. Then there is an undignified rush for tea, squash and biscuits! And, yes both the DH and the big 'un are in the choir. Actually, I am a right moaner, the Sunday services are great for families.

However, it wasn't always like this, I remember when there were hardly any young families in church at all. I think that's why we don't have a mother and toddler group. I can see this changing though. The vicar is very excited because we are having three whole families baptized this month! We're going to have a special baptism meeting for them, make 'em feel welcome, show the baptism video, have a chat etc. The vicar wheels me out for such occasions as "jolly, young Christian mother"!lol! Actually, more families in church is something I've been praying for, so I'm quite excited about being part of it.

Must stop waffling now!

...oh, evangelism through there's a thought...did you see that episode of Jam and Jerusalem where they made the Last Supper out of teasels?...

Anonymous said...

Lol I never saw that episode of Jam and Jerusalem, I loved the programme though.

You moan away dearie, I get a twitchy eye some Sundays when my kiddies talk rather loudly during prayers :)

Our assistant pastor chappie doesn't evangelise through the craft, the crafts are done by the mums, he has just joined in in the past made himself nice easter baskets and such :) He likes to go in case someone new comes so that he can get to know them...getting to know someone, listening and chatting is the best kind of evangelism often.