Martha, Martha, Martha!
It’s more than interesting that in the Gospels’ depiction of Mary, Martha and Lazarus, two of the narratives include food. The Bible speaks a lot about feasting and the enjoyment of food. At Thanksgiving, more than any other holiday, food and family are the centerpieces of the holiday, perhaps even more than giving of thanks.
Personally, I like Martha. In fact, I think I am married to Martha. My wife loves to serve, prepare, fix food, and of course share her food. There are few and I mean truly few times that I fast from food but I do believe I would fast more if I were not married to a Martha (those who know me know my wife is actually Melissa). Just when I am in the midst of a fast, she not only prepares a sumptuous and savory meal, but she persuades me to eat (she suddenly goes from a Martha to something more akin to the serpent!)
I on the other hand am a Mary (and for those who know me know that my name is actually Tim). I love to sit at the feet of Jesus. I love Bible studies. I am after all an education minister and a writer. I wonder how the story would have turned out if Martha had not prepared the food and Mary and Jesus and the disciples had been sitting there, Jesus speaking and suddenly no one was able to concentrate because their stomachs were growling and their throats were parched.
What if Mary looked around and the table was not set, the aroma of a meal did not waft through the house, and there Martha is, sitting down and listening to Jesus as well. “Lord, do You not care that we are all starving here and Martha is just sitting here.” But instead of Jesus saying, "Martha, Martha, Martha," (although it would be clever to say her name the way Jan Brady of the Brady Bunch would), instead he says, "Mary, Mary, you fix it, because Martha is choosing the better part."
How would Mary respond? I think I know (remember I too am a Mary). I would be quite contrary. I imagine Mary would jump up and with a loud clanging of the pots and pans in the kitchen, she would start a meal but not with a joyful heart.
But if you would look closely at Martha, she is sitting there but not still. Her hands are fidgeting, her eyes are darting, her foot would be tapping, glancing at Mary make a mess of her kitchen. Her face is toward Jesus, but her mind is distracted and she looks as uncomfortable as Mary is.
I don’t know what Thanksgiving will be like in your family, but if you have more than one person, you’ll notice that there are differences. You may not have a Mary and a Martha, but I do believe that God delights in bringing diversity into families. As a parent of four children, Martha and I, excuse me, Melissa and I have noticed that not a one of them are the same.
Just as you feast at the variety of food at the table, learn to appreciate the differences the Lord has brought to your family’s table. That’s not an excuse to not help out in the kitchen, but neither is it an excuse to hide in the kitchen and forsake listening to the words of the Master.
Pray this prayer to God: Master and Teacher, let me know the times and seasons to sit and the time to serve. Keep me from judging others who are different than I am and let me not only enjoy our differences, but relish them as gifts from You, for which we should be thankful. In Jesus’ name, Amen.