This week's Bible Lesson on Sacrament offers a way to find and express grace, graciousness, and gracefulness as we go about our day and serve God. The first section is about baptism and purity and I enjoyed working with that yesterday, the whole sense of God being like a refiner of silver, we works with the metal to remove all the impurities to the point where there is a perfect reflection.
Today I am just loving the second section and the story of Mary and Martha. Notice that it is Martha who welcomes Jesus into their home. I wonder if she is the older sister. Mary sits at his feet, listening and learning. But Martha bustles around making people welcome, being sure there are enough chairs, caring for their needs. Caught up in the responsibility of offering hospitality she is 'cumbered' and flustered, unhappy that Mary is making no effort to help her. When she mentions this to Jesus, he gently reminds her that she has gotten involved and distracted, and she has chosen to do all those things instead of putting down the dish towel and joining the group around him. Those things can wait, but he will only be with them a short time and those moments are precious.
Being the oldest child in our family I was often called on to care for my younger siblings when both parents were working. I helped them with their homework, fixed dinner, did the dishes, ran the laundry, tucked them in, etc.. Only then could I do my own homework. I guess I did feel a bit 'cumbered' now and then but it was just simple household stuff and nothing spiritual. And my parents appreciated what I was doing.
The dictionary has several interesting definitions of cumbered. First is 'weighed down, burdened'. I'm sure you've noticed how everyone is determined to lose weight this month after all the goodies from Thanksgiving to New Year's day. Just look at the magazines in the check out line or the ads on tv to see how much money is being spent to coax you to try this diet plan or that method of losing weight. It just might be the number one New Year's resolution. But looked at spiritually, being weighed down is a mental thing, feeling burdened is certainly not expressing our freedome as the image and likeness of God, who created us and is well pleased with our identity. If we have indulged in heavy thinking, this is a perfect time to lift those thoughts.
The second defintion is hamper or hinder. Are you feeling unhappy because there is something in your life that is hampering or hindering you in some way? Surely is it not coming from God who is Love, constantly loving us and providing good. If you think something is 'in your way' who put it there? How can it be removed? By doing what Mary did....stop, sit still, and listen to the Christ, the true idea about God and His beloved creations. Many times when I am feeling 'cumbered' I know that what I need to do is just stop....stop fretting....stop blaming....stop entertaining those thoughts. I need to be still and listen to the angel messages God is sending me.
A third defintion is litter or clutter up. Our house was littered with used wrapping paper, empty boxes, and bit of this and that. Our rooms were cluttered with presents we had not yet put away in their right place. It was not a good representation of order and beauty. I had to be patient and appreciate how everyone was loving the things they recieved and those who sent them. Soon enough family members went back to work and school. I had quiet time to clear away the mess and restore our rooms. It was easier to settle into my usual spiritual routine for study and prayer. Now it feels like I am actively choosing to consecrate my day to God, letting Him show me what to do and when to do it.
"Who then is willing to consecrate his service this day unto the Lord?" (I Chron 29:5) This is my first duty and what God expects of me. Everything else will follow and fall into place. And I will not feel 'cumbered' about anything.