But Martha was distracted by her many tasks... Luke 10:38-42 Honestly, what was Martha doing? She apparently thought it was very important to take care of some things. As Mary chose to sit at her guest’s feet Martha choses to work and not only does she chide her sister for not helping her she expected Jesus to support her choice to do so. For the first time as I read this passage I can see Christ smiling in his response to Martha. When we make unexpected visits it’s usually to homes of people with whom we have some relationship. Generally we don’t go with any expectations but rather to sit, visit and spend some time with people we love. Sometimes the host chooses to work through the visit. My paternal grandmother did this all the time, insisting that she prepare a meal first then sit and talk over the meal. My maternal grandmother on the other hand would sit and chat awhile and then ask if you wanted something to eat. There was always that awkward time during which the meal was being prepared. Either way, I always left well fed, both physically and spiritually. Perhaps Martha simply got caught up in the logistics of the unexpected visit. Jesus’ response was to help Martha understand that if a choice had to be made, Mary made the better choice. In any event people do have to eat! Together, the sister team of Mary and Martha actually made for a great combination of hosts!
When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the lake and coming near the boat…John 6:16-27 So much of life involves decision making and movement. The choice and the way isn’t always as easy or smooth as we like. As we go forward in our journey storms inevitably arise not necessarily to hinder our way but often to satisfy their own purpose. We then allow the storm to distract us. The good news is that as we stay focused on the Divine purpose and will, the presence of Christ will show up in places we least expect.
…he (Jesus) said to them, It is I; do not be afraid.’
And blessed is she who believed… (Luke 1:39-55) Bottom line is Mary had a baby. Not that she had much choice, unlike today where we have so many choices. What is most important was that Mary believed what was about to happen through her was indeed a blessing. After what I thought was a difficult first year in college, I considered dropping out. When I shared this with a friend I have never forgotten what he told me. He said; “Whenever you make a decision you have to stand by it, whether it turns out to be good, bad, right or wrong. Accept the decision you make because it’s your decision.” His point was that I needed to believe that my decisions mattered. Whether I chose to leave or stay, something ultimately was going to be required of me. If I stay, I needed to believe that I could make it. If I left then I believed I couldn’t make it. It was the first step in understanding what it means to accept where I was, put on my big girl undies and believe in my ability to see it through. Immediately (stealing a phrase from Mark’s gospel), I got to work one class at a time. This of course hardly compares to the difficult situation of a virgin named Mary being told that she would conceive the Savior of the world. However, what connects each of us to Mary and to one another is who we are as servants of the most high and the plethora of emotions we all experience when we find ourselves in what seems like an impossible or overwhelming situation. Second, we are connected by favor, which God has for all his servants, and like Mary ultimately in the face of difficult choices what ever they may be we have to believe that God’s plan is at work through us.
Although we celebrate the first Christmas today, I said from the beginning of this Advent season that we live in an Advent life of preparation, expectation and awareness of Christ return. While the culture of the day may not have left Mary much of a choice, when you think about it, as Christians today, neither do we. Merry Christmas today and every day hereafter!
Consider for a moment a time when you may have felt hurt or betrayed by someone and yet as you look back on life you find yourself in a better place because of that experience. There is no way of knowing with absolute certainty what Judas’ thoughts may have been, but we can not argue that he must have had some questions and struggles within him even into his death, which in my mind is a tragedy. We know that Judas questions the use of the oil used to anoint Jesus feet. Perhaps he also questions Christ’s tactics and motives and particularly through out these last days struggles with the perceived rise of Christ among common humanity. Judas finds himself in between his relationship with the world and the spiritual relationship with Christ. He is having a difficult time seeing beyond the vehicle that is the body of Christ. Remember Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Is not Judas portrayed to be in a place where we sometimes find our selves; unable to see beyond our present circumstances questioning God’s ways? The reality for us today is that when Judas died those questions, concerns and doubts did not die with him. Ultimately Judas had to make a decision and so do we. The scripture had to be fulfilled and Judas made the choice that led him to a sacrifice for death and yet leads us to the one sacrificed for life. Judas could be anyone of us or someone we know, but Judas’ dilemma doesn’t have to be our dilemma. The good news is that we have something that Judas did not have, the gift of the Holy Spirit. Are we using the gifts of the Holy Spirit so that the scripture can be fulfilled in our own lives?
Matthew 21:33-46 ‘Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watch-tower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country.
The opening sentences in the parable of the landowner who planted a vineyard, I believe immediately speak to God’s purpose and love for what He created. It’s a story that reflects the history and God’s intentionality of human relationship right up to this very day. A valuable gift is created; every effort is made to fortify and protect it and then made available for others to share in its benefit. What could possibly go wrong? It seems like a rather uncomplicated plan until the true value of the gift becomes a commodity of the mind without regard to the heart. It is here where the relationship goes awry. Most of us who value the gift don’t see ourselves as hoarders and abusers of something that was always meant to be shared and given, not to be possessed, controlled or even rationed. Yet are we not offended when someone suggests or reaches out into our ministry, as if it were our own creation and therefore we have a right to control who participates in it and who does not. Jesus shares this story of God’s uncomplicated plan with the chief priests and Pharisees. He is accomplished not only in getting their understanding that the tenants, hoarding and abusing this very valuable gift of the vineyard were wrong, but also raising their indignation about the injustice! “Have you never read in the scriptures…?” This charge by Jesus compels them to realize their part in the story. When we finally realize our own part in the story we have two choices and Jesus makes clear that there is a wrong choice. The choice of the Pharisees and chief priests meant that they could neither keep the gift nor prevent the gift from being taken away. The good news for us that through Jesus Christ, we also have the gift of redemption and reconciliation. Today, which choice will we make?
Heavenly God, we thank you for the most precious gift of your son Jesus Christ and of the ministries, which you have given us charge over. Pray that we are good stewards of these gifts that others may come to know you and share in the joy of your kingdom.