You are welcome!

By Rev. Dr Katherine Rainger, Senior Chaplain

Rev. Dr Katherine Rainger
Rev. Dr Katherine Rainger, Senior Chaplain

The giving and receiving of hospitality in our homes is a way to really get to know people. Much of Jesus’ ministry takes place in domestic space, inside homes. This week’s Gospel reading takes us into the home of Martha, Jesus’ good friend. The story can be found in Luke’s Gospel, Luke 10: 38–42.

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.”

I wonder what your response is to this story? Much ink has been spilled over these four sentences. The story evokes different responses from people. Do we have some sympathy for Martha left to entertain and host the guests on her own? Do we give a cheer to Jesus’ vision of gender equality as Mary takes the place of learning from a teacher alongside Jesus’ male companions?

What tone do we imagine Jesus uses as he addresses Martha? What tone do we imagine Martha uses as she addresses Jesus? Some of us might feel that it’s all very well to be devoted to Jesus, but someone must keep the show on the road and dinner on the table!

Pastor Niveen Sarras is a Palestinian Christian, born and raised in Bethlehem. Her insights into the story of Mary and Martha from a first century and modern-day Palestinian perspective are very insightful and bring another dimension to the story.

Luke has placed this story between the story of the Good Samaritan, where Jesus teaches that true religiosity requires service and compassion of the other (Luke 10: 25–37), and his teaching on the prayer (Luke 11: 1-4). The story of Mary and Martha is a hinge between the two and these two women epitomise both responses: Martha a life of service, Mary a life of devotion. Luke’s story can seem like a dichotomy, however, one does not have to exist at the expense of the other.

Jesus is inviting Mary, Martha and us, into the fullness of a life of faith. Service of others is fuelled by time spent with God. Our time spent with God in prayer, contemplation and reading the Bible nourishes outward expressions of faith. Jesus is saying to Martha, Mary and to us, “don’t let worries and distractions overwhelm you in your desire to welcome others”. Jesus is saying to Mary, Martha and to us, “rest and enjoy learning from me, you are welcome”.

The band Tiddas has a beautiful song about welcome called, Inside My Kitchen. This is the first verse:

Lyrics by Richard Frankland

Come inside into my kitchen
And rest your feet and weary mind
You can settle and I will listen
To the problems that you find.

In this world in which we live
I’ve got time to give,
I’ve got time to give

As we reflect on all of the place and gift of home, we remember those for whom home is not a safe place, those who need an affordable home, those who have had to flee their homes, and those who are undertaking a huge clean up in order to go back home. May God’s strength and grace and the strength and grace of communities abound.

Blessings for the term ahead
Rev. Katherine

God of the morning
by Lynda Wright

God of the morning,
help us to be still:
to breathe
to be aware
to appreciate
the giftedness of today –
the sounds
the colours
the tastes
the tasks and people waiting.

Help us to explore the mystery
Opening before us
All around us
And deep within us.
Lead us into the life of this new day.