Martha and Mary
Normally, I cringe and frown quite a bit when this story pops up in the lectionary.
(For extra credit, friends, guess which sister I identify with.)
So this morning when I looked at the readings, I thought, "Oh, here we go again." The Old Testament reading juxtaposed against the M&M tale very loudy. Abraham being visited by three angels. He had his servant killing, marinating and grilling a piece of fresh meat. He had Sarah in the tent baking bread (and if the temperature there and then was anything like it is here and now, Sarah's an absolute saint for obliging her man on this particular task.) He himself, Abraham, that is, scurrying about, setting the table, washing the feet, prolly arranging an attractive centerpiece. Way to go, I think, for entertaining important guests.
So. Fast forward through the Psalm and the New Testament lesson the to Gospel. And what do we have? M&M once again, with Jesus and the guys having dropped in for dinner. Mary, slacker that she is, hangs out in the front room with the men, leaving Martha to get the entire meal ready and on the table. And, to put the icing on the cake (metaphorically speaking), Jesus sides with Mary! Do you believe it?
Frown. Cringe. Snarl.
Coincidentally, tomorrow night a friend of ours who is a young pastor is coming to dinner. With his wife (who's a kick-ass quilter,by the way) and a second couple (another quilter and her delightful husband). I spent a good bit of time planning my menu, shopping at not one but two stores to get what I need, and kind of had the thought that if the sermon was not to my taste the morning, I'd spend that time considering what kind of flowers to put on the table and whether it would be nice enough to have the shrimps and crudite on the deck, and whipped cream vs. vanilla ice cream to top the cobbler.
Yeah, yeah. Call me Martha.
But wait! Listen up!
Our terrific pastor took the position that Martha got a bit of a bad rap and that the human side of Jesus got carried away. I sat up. I took notice. I paid close attention (kind of like Mary would have done). Pastor suggested that if the story were being lived and told today, when Jesus popped in and saw Martha get afluster at the sudden need to serve a meal (what with the local grocery being closed, it being the Sabbath and all), why Jesus would have suggested they all work together in the kitchen. He even offered to cut the tomatoes while Martha threw together a frittata or some such. No mention of Mary. And that suited me just fine.
I liked this story. A lot.
Even came up with the next scene: The frittata done, the bread sliced, the tomatoes meticulously and gorgeously sliced, the wine poured (a nice white, I think, chilled to perfection) everyone sits down at the table. Whose turn is it to say grace?
Cue Mary -- who, of course, knows exactly how to proceed:
"Be present at our table, Lord . . . ."