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Time is our most precious commodity.

Our clocks run from birth to death,

during times of joy and sorrow,

work and play: business and pleasure,

speech and silence.

Tick, Tock, Tick, Tock…..

The gospels describe how Mary, Martha and their brother Lazarus gave Jesus hospitality in their home at Bethany outside Jerusalem.

Jesus is said to have loved all three.

After Lazarus' death, Jesus wept and was moved by the sisters' grief

to bring Lazarus back from the dead. Martha recognised Jesus as the Messiah, while Mary anointed his feet and, on another occasion, was commended by Jesus for her attentiveness to his teaching while Martha served. From this, Mary is traditionally taken to be an example of the contemplative life and Martha an example of the Christian life put into action.

TIME .....Martha-like people never have enough time.

They have their long to-do lists,

and cannot sit still for a moment.

It always seems an uphill struggle;

Tasks half-completed because of new demands

Sometimes of their own making,

their own unmatchable high-standards.

Martha couldn’t do enough for Jesus.

He was such a special friend.

She wanted her act of hospitality

to be the very best she could offer.

It demanded time, time in the kitchen,

time spent in the background, preparation time,

to which she would give her fullest attention.

She would have to leave Jesus in Mary’s care,

Martha had too much to do to be ready for this visit.

Truly this is hospitality,

practised in the background

and put into action.

Mary-like people know how to make others feel special.

She was always calm, never one to hurry,

never constrained by deadlines.

Sitting, relaxed and relaxing, making the visitor comfortable,

giving the visitor time.

They’re courteous in giving hospitality of the ears,

focusing attention on the guest’s words,

receiving those words as a gift from the visitor to the visited.

It was no hardship for Mary – she could listen to Jesus for hours.

His teaching was radical, liberating for those on society’s edge;

too edgy for the old-school orthodox,

not edgy-enough for those who craved independence from Imperialism.

He was exciting, and clearly was relaxed in their home,

sharing His thoughts, plans, anxieties with her, just her.

Mary listened, to every word of it.

Truly this is hospitality,

practised in the foreground

and put into action.

God our Father, whose Son enjoyed the love of his friends, Mary, Martha and Lazarus, in learning, argument and hospitality: may we so rejoice in your love that the world may come to know the depths of your wisdom, the wonder of your compassion, and your power to bring life out of death; through the merits of Jesus Christ, our friend and brother, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Luke chapter 10: verses 38 to 42 (an Australian translation).

“On their way to Jerusalem, Jesus and his followers passed through a certain village and accepted the invitation of a woman named Martha to share a meal in her home. Martha had a sister named Mary, who sat down on the floor the moment Jesus arrived and hung on every word he said. Martha, on the other hand, was trying to do everything and was getting more and more flustered about it. She came in and said to Jesus, “Teacher, doesn’t it bother you that my sister has left all the work to me? Tell her to get off her backside and give me a hand.”

Jesus answered, “Martha, Martha, you are letting so many things stress you out. There is really only one thing that everyone needs. Mary has made the right choice and it is not going to be taken away from her.”

©2001 Nathan Nettleton


Am I more Martha than Mary?

Is it better to be like Martha?

Perhaps there's a little bit of both in me?

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