Sixth Sunday after Pentecost
Scripture: Luke 10: 38 – 42
The gospel reading for this week takes us to Bethany and to the home of Martha, Mary and Lazarus. Jesus didn’t have a home, and Bethany would have been a safe and comfortable place where he could rest and relax with friends.
In this passage, Jesus has arrived in Bethany and the first thing we learn is that Martha welcomes him to their home. This did not only mean being welcoming in spirit, but in practical terms it meant preparing more than enough food for everyone as well as a comfortable place to rest. In Cymru (Wales) we like to drink tea! And if someone calls at your home, it is polite to ask; ‘fasa chi’n hoffi panad?’ (would you like a cup?) which means a cup of tea! I imagine that this is true of most cultures around the world; we like to welcome people to our home not only with our words but practical hospitality. When I was a part of TIM 97-98 I spent seven months in Tamil Nadu being hosted by CSI. I learnt early on about the warm hospitality and welcome offered to us by Indian families and communities. And this meant being offered a lot more than a cup of tea! We would often visit poor rural villages, but the food that was offered to us was so generous. I was a young woman, far from home, but experiencing this welcome meant so much and really helped me settle in to life in South India.
Back in Bethany, to Martha, offering hospitality was so important however, that she became rather pre-occupied with the task in hand. Once she realised that Jesus was to be their guest, she hastened to make sure that everything was ready. As Jesus was such a special guest, she naturally wanted everything to be perfect. Martha soon realised that she needed help – but her sister Mary was nowhere to be seen. When she realised that Mary was listening to Jesus teaching, she was not best pleased. But rather than being angry with Mary, Martha approaches Jesus; “Lord, are you not bothered that my sister has left me with all the work – tell her to come and help!” I’m sure that Martha would have been quite surprised with Jesus’ answer. “Martha, Martha! You are worried and troubled over so many things, but just one is needed. Mary has chosen the right thing, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Being part of Jesus’ ministry and mission today is a big responsibility. Here in Cymru as in other parts of the world we face many challenges and sometimes this responsibility weighs heavily on us. This can sometimes cause us to work and ‘do’ constantly so that we neglect to spend enough time at the Lord’s feet; listening to his word and just being still and being renewed by being in His presence. While Jesus needs his disciples to work diligently like Martha, Mary teaches us the importance of spending time in prayer and meditation. If we chose the right thing; being in God’s presence, then it will enrich our work and witness.
Rev. Mererid Mair Williams, Union of Welsh Independents
Let us thank God for welcoming communities and especially those who welcome refugees and asylum seekers to their cities, towns and villages.
Let us remember in our prayers today those who are burdened by their responsibility as Jesus’ disciples and for those who are tired and disheartened.
We pray that they will find peace and renewal in God’s loving spirit. AMEN
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