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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Sunday, July 21, 2019              

Today’s Scripture Reading | Luke 10:38–42

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.” (NRSV)

Since moving away from home, I’ve started to learn how much work goes into hosting guests. Whenever I think of inviting people to my apartment, I get stressed out by all of the preparation that would be required before they even arrive, let alone everything that would need to be done while they’re visiting. In that way, it’s very easy for me to relate to Martha in this story. I would also be worried and distracted if I had unexpected visitors. I would love to be like Mary, but I know that’s not how I would actually react.

But what strikes me about this passage is not the differences between the two sisters. What strikes me is Jesus and Martha’s friendship. Martha boldly and directly tells Jesus to tell Mary to help her. In response, Jesus calls her by name twice, acknowledges her feelings, and gently assures her that “there is need of only one thing,” not the list of things that she thinks needs to be done. In the words of Ron Weasley from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Martha “needs to sort out her priorities.” Jesus tells Martha this in a much more loving way.

It can be difficult to prioritize when it seems like there is so much that needs to be done, but Jesus reminds Martha and us that our friendships and our relationship with God are the better part over the tasks and worries that distract us.

Gracious God, you call us into relationship with you. Thank you for your gentle reminders to sort out our priorities so that we may be present in our time together that we may better our relationships with one another and with you. Amen.

Written by Katrina Buchanan, Editorial Assistant

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