Now as they went on their way, he 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."
We live in a Martha world. By this, I mean we live in a world where people see value in being busy, in doing things, in accomplishing things, and not much value in just sitting and listening. People love to proclaim how busy they are, how little time they take for themselves, how harried and exhausted they are by the end of the day. It's a badge of honor, a point of pride.
And I think it's crap. This story from the gospel of Luke seems to concur. Martha was busy, she was harried, she was working hard to make a meal for her guests and in those "many tasks" were probably some things that didn't actually need to get done. But Martha felt they were so urgent she actually asked Jesus to send Mary away from him so she could help Martha. Jesus, instead, tells Martha to relax, he tells her that in the midst of all the things she is deeming so important there is only one truly important thing, and she has missed it. Mary, however, has chosen the better part, the sitting and listening, and Jesus will not take that away from her.
It's easy to say we all need to be more like Mary. But we live in a Martha world. It's hard to step back, to let go of the pride of busyness, to risk looking to the world like maybe you aren't that important after all. It is hard, but it is also worth it.
Take some time this week to notice when you are acting like Martha - focusing on all the things you find so important that just have to be done right now. And then intentionally stop yourself, and take a Mary moment. Take a moment to read scripture, to drink a cup of tea in silence, to sit on your front porch and watch the world go by. Take some time to simply sit and listen in silence. For it is in those moments that you, like Mary, will hear Jesus speak.
God who sits and listens to us, help me to learn to sit and listen to you. Help me to discern what is truly important, what I simply think is important, and what I can let go of entirely. And then help me to actually do that. I want you to be a priority in my life. In Jesus' name, Amen.