The gospel lesson we used was the story in John about Lazarus. There was particular emphasis on Jesus being both son of God and son of man, as witnessed by his tears in this passage, at the death of Lazarus. However for me, the take-away was about Martha and Mary. The sermon author recalled the story of “busy” Martha and “present” Mary – a story which for me as a do-er, has always been something of a challenge. But there was real insight for me when he pointed out the interactions of the sisters with Jesus when he came to Bethany, albeit too late to heal Lazarus. Both women challenged him for being too late. With Martha, Jesus entered into a conversation about eternal life, and ends asking her, “Do you believe?” She replies “I believe. I believe that you are the Christ…and that whoever believes in you will never die.” Mary too approached Jesus rather testily, and then simply broke down in tears. Jesus did not engage in discourse with her, but rather he too, broke out in tears.
There was an interesting validation of both Martha and Mary. Martha was outspoken about her faith, willing to declare her belief; it is a characteristic that we all might do well to adopt in a world sorely in need of faith. On the other hand Mary was sensitive to all the feelings within her, and responsive to the love she encountered in Jesus; the world also needs our sensitivity.
It’s no longer “Martha/Mary” for me – it’s now "Martha and Mary"! Maybe others already grasped this concept, but I found this really helpful.