Text Luke 10:38-42
We are a society distracted by many things, like Martha.
Text messages – Facebook messages – Twitter messages – Snapchats – come all the time to distract us.
You go out for dinner these days and the diners aren’t talking with each other, they are looking down at their phones. Conversations are interrupted by the need to check out a text message or answer a call.
They are distracted by many things.
But in today’s Gospel Reading we are talking about a different type of distraction. We are talking about a distraction away from God.
There are many distractions in our lives that take us away from God, as it did to Martha.
It reminds me of the time when Peter saw Jesus walking on the water and asked to join him. Peter was fine while he was focused on Jesus, like Mary was. But as soon as he was distracted, like Martha, by the waves crashing around him he began to sink. The waves of fear and worry distracted him. Just as the waves of worry for Martha about getting things right at home for the guests distracted her away from Jesus.
So too the waves of fear and worry distract people away from God. Martha had gotten to the point of her worry that her work had stopped being a joy and vocation to God and had become a distraction to her faith in God. It had therefore stopped being a blessing to her and others and became a source of worry and anger.
Martha obviously had the gift of hospitality, making sure everything was right to welcome Jesus, but had become distracted by the worry. Instead of being a source of blessings to others it caused a division between her and her sister Mary.
It is easy for us also to become distracted by the worries of life and believe that we have to solve our problems rather than taking them to the Lord in Prayer. Like Martha, we have all been given a vocation in life by which we can serve God and our neighbour.
However, Martha’s distraction now saw her go to Jesus antagonised and angry with Mary. The love of God and neighbour was gone.
Our human nature can easily turn our love for God and neighbour around where we love ourselves only and forget to use our gifts to serve God and our neighbour. As Christians that’s where we can easily find ourselves, as we are reminded in the Parable of the Sower –
The seeds that were sown among thorns were the ones who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the distraction of riches choke the word.
And so we need to keep coming back to the feet of Jesus and allow him to remove those thorns in the flesh in our lives.
This is where worship plays a vital role in the life of the Christian to keep breaking that cycle of distraction. We need to see our worship in the same way that Mary sees it as it nurtures our faith to keep us focused on our vocation as serving God and our neighbour.
We need to see our worship as sitting at the feet of Jesus being nurtured for our life for when we leave to go into our daily vocation and not as a duty to God.
And remember that vocation is not just employment. It is how God uses you each day as mother, father, grandfather, grandmother, sister, brother, friend.
Just look at how the distraction affected the 2 sisters of Mary and Martha. Sadly, to many Christians, church becomes another task in their already hectic lives. And when that happens we can begin to see the friction between brothers and sisters in the faith.
We become distracted by the tasks rather than the service of God. Church should never be seen in such a way.
No, it needs to be seen in the light of what Paul says about the church being the body of Christ where the riches of God’s glory have been placed.
And so the message of Martha and Mary also speaks a message to the church that its core message is always the Gospel that has freed us from our cares and burdens. The church needs to help us place our burdens on Jesus who says – come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.
The gathering around the Word and the Sacraments is not another thing for the Martha in us to add to our schedule. Remember, Jesus is the host here and we are the guests.
We are called to be Mary here and be prepared for our vocations as Marthas in the world. Martha had sadly confused the two.
The Gospel allows us to revalue our gifts to become our calling and vocation rather than a burden that distracts us away from God.
How do you see your life?
Do you see what you are doing as a burden, like Martha, or do you see it as a calling and vocation from God, like Mary. The work that Martha was doing was not the problem. It was her gift and calling. But she had let them distract her away from her service towards Jesus.
Martha does not let her gift of hospitality become a service to God but a distraction from the spiritual blessings that would come from it. The work she was doing needed to be done – but allowing them to burden her the way they did was the issue.
Our lives are going to be busy and burdensome at times. But in our busyness and burdens we are energised by our worship life and seeing our work as a vocation and calling by God.
Jesus didn’t say – you shouldn’t be burdened – but come unto me you who are burdened and I will give you rest. You can find that rest in your worship but you can also find it each day.
Luther in his Catechism teaches us how:
In the morning when you get up, make the sign of the holy cross and say: In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Then, kneeling or standing, repeat the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer. Then go joyfully to your work,
In the evening when you go to bed, make the sign of the holy cross and say: In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Then kneeling or standing, repeat the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer. Then go to sleep at once and sleep in peace.
Begin each day at the feet of Jesus. End each day at Jesus’ feet – and see how a new perspective of life comes on you. Our identity comes from Jesus Christ not from the work we do.
So when our work becomes our identity, like Martha, then the burdens take over as it did to Martha.
When our identity comes from sitting at Jesus feet, like Mary, then the burdens are easily transferred to Christ to receive his rest.
So choose the better part – choose to sit at Jesus’ feet and it will not be taken away from you. Amen