Today's Gospel reading is the familiar account of Mary and Martha from the Gospel according to Luke. We have all read and heard this many times, and yet as with all of Scripture, each reading is God speaking to us if we will only listen.
While they were traveling, he entered a village, and a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who also sat at the Lord’s feet and was listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks, and she came up and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to serve alone? So tell her to give me a hand.”
The Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has made the right choice, and it will not be taken away from her.”
-- Luke 10.38-42 CSB
Evelyn Underhill, an Anglican who died before WWII and knew nothing of the cacophony of the contemporary Western world, wrote about the busyness of her day and the church's attitude then about productivity and constant motion. Writing in the first half of the 20th century, before email, smartphones, and the constantly-connected world we know call home, she cautioned:
The modern tendency is to turn from the attitude and the work of Mary; and even call it—as I have heard it called by busy social Christians,—a form of spiritual selfishness. Thousands of devoted men and women today believe that the really good part is to keep busy, and give themselves no time to take what is offered to those who abide quietly with Christ; because there seem such a lot of urgent jobs for Martha to do. The result of this can only be a maiming of their human nature, exhaustion, loss of depth and of vision; and it is seen in the vagueness and ineffectuality of a great deal of the work that is done for God. It means a total surrender to the busy click-click of the life of succession; nowhere, in the end, more deadly than in the religious sphere. I insist on this because I feel, more and more, the danger in which we stand of developing a lop-sided Christianity; so concentrated on service, and on this-world obligations, as to forget the need of constant willed and quiet contact with that other world...
-- Evelyn Underhill, Mixed Pastures
If Christians a hundred years ago were in danger of losing touch with God through the busyness, noise, and hustle of their age, how much more are in danger of the same? How much more deliberate must we be to turn off, tune out, and ignore those things we take for granted in our modern world--many of which are not inherently bad in themselves--that threaten our relationship with Christ?! This weekend, let us find a way to take a true Sabbath, guarding ourselves from perpetual motion and connecting/reconnecting with God through Word, Sacrament, and prayer.
Photo by Matt Quinn on Unsplash