A Text With A View
Every preacher should be so lucky as to stare at this view while sitting on a hill and studying Scripture. I'm not sure what it illuminates about the text. Perhaps it only reminds us to celebrate the wonder of creation.
The view certainly doesn't help me to figure out what is going on with Mary and Martha in this week's lections. As I sat on this hill and read, I was caught by something in The Women's Bible Commentary. (You can see it in the picture.) In her steadfast reminder that Luke is a "dangerous" text for women, Jane Schaberg doesn't emphasize a duality between Mary and Martha. It's not one or the other. It seems like it is something in-between (and I love that in-between space).
At my first read on this summer day, I was drawn to Martha. And can you blame me? I'm a young clergy person struggling daily with her identity when it seems like every other Mary has it all together. (You know who I am talking about.) Of course I relate to Martha. But, as I read my dear friend Jane Schaberg, my heart changed.
She highlights verse 39b: "who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to what he was saying." This is a big deal because to sit at one's feet like this suggets that Mary is a disciple, which is a male role. Luke never refers to women as disciples. They are always passive and supporting men. There is no active role that women engage in -- or so it seems. But, here is Mary actively listening.
So, what does this mean for us to be disciples? I thought maybe I should be as active as Mary. So, I sat on the hill and listened. Perhaps that was the reminder that I needed. I heard the laughter of a picnic. The cooing of a couple too close for my own comfort. The guffaw of a child who couldn't for the life of him catch a frisbee. The sound of the sea. The movement of ships. The flutter of sails. The grinding of cars up the hill. And so I'm left to wonder in the midst of my study on this Monday afternoon, what should we be listening to? Where are we not hearing the Word of the Lord? What is the Word of the Lord saying to us when we dare to listen?
And in that nifty inbetween space, what does our listening teach us to do? If we are to listen like Mary, then what do we do like Martha? Hmmm.