Connections 07.17.2022: Preparing and Learning

Luke 10:21-24, 38-42

The second part of our lesson text tells the familiar story of sisters Martha and Mary—one focused on working and one focused on listening (vv. 38-42). Martha often gets shamed for her bustling busyness. She’s cleaning and cooking and trying to be the best host for her guests. Mary, on the other hand, gets honored for her quiet contemplation. She’s sitting and kneeling and trying to be the best learner for her own spiritual growth.

If you’re like me, you’ve certainly been in a situation where you’re likelier to behave like Martha than like Mary. I’m thinking of my best friends. Two of these women are “Marys,” spontaneous and go-with-the-flow and unconcerned with routine details. Myself and our other friend tend to be “Marthas,” intent on making a plan, providing food, and ensuring that everybody is happy, sometimes even to our own detriment.

The world takes both kinds of people. Without foresight and planning and preparation, gatherings and events are chaotic. There’s not enough food…or too much of it. There’s not enough space for everyone to sleep. The activities only satisfy half the group; the other half is bored. We need the Marthas.

But without slowing down, paying attention, and listening with intention, gatherings and events are unfulfilling. There’s too much noise. Some people feel like no one gives them a chance to talk; others dominate the conversations. There’s no voice of reason, nothing to focus on, nowhere to look for life lessons, encouragement, and accountability. We need Marys.

In the first part of the lesson text, Jesus tells his disciples, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see but did not see it and to hear what you hear but did not hear it” (vv. 23-24). Jesus has so many things to teach us. May we make the necessary preparations for a space and time to learn from him. And when we come to that space and time, may we sit quietly at his feet and listen with intention to all he has to say.

Discussion

• Are you more like Mary or Martha, or does it depend on the situation?
• When have you behaved like Mary and wished you had prepared more the way Martha did? When have you behaved like Martha and wished you had taken time to pay attention the way Mary did?
• Why do you think Jesus chooses to praise Mary for her behavior in this particular situation? In what circumstances might he have been more on Martha’s side?
• Why does the world need both kinds of people? How can we cultivate both qualities in our daily lives?
• How can we see and hear what Jesus wants to show and tell us?

Kelley Land, a graduate of Mercer University, has been an assistant editor of Smyth & Helwys curriculum and books since 2001. In addition to this work, she is a freelance editor for other publishers and authors. She also regularly volunteers for Jay’s HOPE, a nonprofit serving families of children with cancer. Kelley enjoys spending time with her teenage daughters, Samantha and Natalie, her husband John, and the family’s two dachshund mix pups, Luke and Leia. She likes supporting community theater productions and is often found playing board games with a group of rowdy friends. She loves Marvel, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Doctor Who. And she writes middle grade and young adult fiction for the pure joy of it.

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