Welcome to Our Community - Pastor Tricia
Pastor Tricia Mattson serves at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Springfield, MN. She recently added some joy to her life by adopting Bojō, a four month old Shiba Inu puppy, whom her Siamese cat, Ephie, is licking into shape.
Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me." But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her." Luke 10:38-42
One of my late father’s favorite sayings was, “Do something, even if it’s wrong.” It was a mortal sin in my family to sit around doing nothing. As a result, during my Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) in seminary, what I struggled with most was what my supervisor called “being.” I found it difficult to spend time in self-reflection, because it was engrained in me that I needed to be busy (or at least appear to be busy) all the time.
John Wesley’s 1778 quote, “cleanliness is next to godliness,” has perhaps been replaced today by “busyness is next to godliness.” These days if you ask someone how they are, you are likely to get the response, “Busy!” Children’s schedules are jam-packed with activities; therefore, parents are racing around like chickens with their heads cut off. Empty nesters are tapped on the shoulder to fill their “free time” with service to the church and community. Retired folks find themselves even busier than they were while working. The elderly suffer from feelings of shame when they are no longer able to be busy.
We are quite proud of our busyness. It makes us feel important. It makes us feel like we really matter, and we hope to find our worth in it. Sometimes we are busy serving others with great joy; but other times we are anxious and distracted by our many tasks. Our serving can become a heavy burden to carry when we believe it to be our means to become God-pleasing.
Martha is the patron saint of busy believers. We can sympathize with Martha, who was entertaining the Lord, and most likely his twelve disciples, too. That’s a lot of mouths to feed! Surely Martha wanted to make a good impression: proving herself to be the “hostess with the most-est.”
We can understand why Martha is so upset with her sister. Did you have a sibling who lazed about, leaving all the work to you? Likely Martha had been trying to catch Mary’s eye, waving her over to help. But her slacker sister paid her no attention. Mary just sat there at Jesus’ feet doing absolutely nothing!
What made it worse was that Jesus didn’t tell Mary to get off her backside and get busy. Jesus actually enabled Mary’s idleness, as Martha worked herself into a tizzy. Finally, Martha lost her cool and commanded Jesus to order her sister to help her.
But Jesus turned the tables on Martha. After all, he didn’t come to be served, but to serve. So, he said, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.” Don’t worry about setting the table, Martha. Instead, just grab a cushion, plop yourself down next to your sister, and soak up the words of eternal life that Jesus has come to shower upon you.
The more we try to do for Jesus, the more we get in the way of him doing things for us. If we’re always busy using our hands to build spiritual kingdoms, we can’t open them as beggars to receive the gifts of Jesus. Our Lord doesn’t say, “Be busy and know that I am impressed,” but “Be still, and know that I am God.” Jesus doesn’t draw near to you to ask you how much you’ve done for him lately. He doesn’t come with his ledger book to tally up how much of his favor that you’ve earned.
Instead, Jesus tells you how much he’s done for you. He handed himself over to be condemned and crucified, so that he could make you his own. He has built an entire kingdom for you from the simple wood of a blood-stained cross. Jesus Christ is beckoning you to sit at his feet, with Mary, and listen as he gives you rest for your soul.
Of course, there is plenty of good for you to do in this world – for your family, your friends, your neighbors, and even your enemies. But the good that you do is not what matters most. What matters most is the plan for good that Jesus Christ has for your life. The Lord’s good plan is simply this: to crucify and resurrect you with Jesus. To divorce you from your works and your doings, and to join you to his works and his doings! To baptize you into the body that bore your sins and defeated them, and then to resurrect you to new life in the body of Christ! Each Sabbath you are invited to leave your busyness behind, plop yourself down on a cushion at Jesus’ feet with all your brothers and sisters in Christ, and soak up his words that give you eternal life.
Pr. Tricia Mattson
- If you would like to know more about St. Paul Lutheran in Springfield, MN where Pastor Tricia serves, you can view her church's website by clicking HERE.
- Which are you more like in your faith? Martha who always needs to be doing something or Mary who, in those important moments, really values sitting down and learning?
- What "doing" tasks most tempt you to get up and start running around when Jesus is calling you to be still?