Updated: May 31, 2020
Facilitator Notes: Rev. Dexter Henderson
During this pandemic many of us have been unable to do the work in ministry the way we have become accustomed to. This story reminds us that being still and listening is not only just as valuable to our discipleship as all of the other ways in which we serve God, but this story reminds us that it is actually the most important aspect of our worship.
We all know that ministry is hard work. It requires that we give of our time, talents, and treasures, and this keeps us busy to the point that sometimes we even complain that there is never enough time to complete all that ministry demands of us. And when sickness or tragedy or something unexpected like Covid -19 happens, we can feel paralyzed by all of the things we can no longer do, and that can actually prevent us from seeing and hearing God in the midst of it all.
Now that we have been unable to serve in our various ministries in the church building, we have been forced to “Zoom” in on what exactly the “better part” is. And we have discovered that the center of all we do, is and has always been the Word of God. And while God is certainly pleased with our willingness to serve in choirs, dance and drama ministries, we have been reminded that none of this matters unless the Word of God is at the center of our ministries, guiding us to remained focused on our divine purpose, so that our work for the kingdom remains God centered and not centered around us.
So, when we look at all of the “stops” or “pauses” Jesus made that the Gospel writer Luke allows us to witness (from chapters 9:51- 19;47), as Jesus sets His sights on Jerusalem and the Cross, He takes the time to instruct His disciples of what it really means to follow Him, and we are reminded of a few things that these stops along the way make clear, one is that we recognize that we must be His representatives, as we go forth spreading the gospel, that we must be good neighbors to all we come in contact with, regardless of social status or religious beliefs, and we must recognize that in the kingdom of God there is no distinction between Jew or Gentile, or slave nor free, nor male or female but that we are all one in Christ Jesus. And finally, Jesus wants us to always remember that when all else fails, when all hell is breaking loose around us, before we make any emotional decisions and before we try to figure out what to do on our own, the very best thing we can do, is stop pause, and listen for God.
This is why the story of Martha and Mary is so significant because as Jesus and His disciples enter the house, Jesus begins to teach, and as Mary and the disciples sit at His feet to listen to the Master teach, Martha confronts Jesus, asking him to admonish Mary for sitting while Martha was preparing all the things she believed were necessary for entertaining houseguests. But Jesus’ refusal to admonish Mary and instead tell Martha that what Mary was doing was indeed the “better” or most important thing a disciple could be doing, was a lesson for not just Martha and the rest of the disciples in that house, but for us today as well, because Mary’s position at the feet of Jesus’ exemplifies the fact that the ground at the cross is indeed level, that all who follow Jesus are expected to treat each other as equals, and that the best hospitality anyone can ever offer a guest is a listening ear.
Let us not overlook the “better” or most important part of our worship during this “pause” in our regularly scheduled ministries, but instead take this time to stop and listen to the Word of God for instruction and direction, so that when we return to the church building, we return even better prepared to serve God and one another than ever before.