From Mary to Martha

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.

John 11:5

This poem was inspired by my mother, who has taught me to appreciate Martha in the Gospel stories. Being a “Mary” myself, I was tempted to read Christ’s speech to Martha as a rebuke. In the Bible, however, the Lord only speaks a name twice when He really needs someone’s attention: “Abraham! Abraham!” “Samuel! Samuel!” “Saul, Saul!” When He says to her, “Martha! Martha!”, it is a call. He speaks from His Heart, full of love, and asks her to participate in His Will more closely.

As I’ve said recently, this isolation, especially from Church, has been difficult for me. There were some days when I felt I couldn’t even turn to seek comfort in prayer. That prayer of love is how I define myself, but I had lost it through the pain of separation.

Martha’s Faith

I have been comforted in those moments by my mother, a self-professed “Martha”, who kept going anyways. Cooking, washing, cleaning, caring for her plants, nurturing her family. That reminded me of the earlier Mary-Martha story. When their brother, Lazarus, died, Mary was too hurt and angry to greet the Lord. But Martha trusted, and it was her faith that allowed the Lord to work His miracle.

So no matter who you are, appreciate the part of you that is “Martha”. She will help carry you through the hurt and sorrow with unshakable faith. She will praise God in her work, necessary in happy or sad times.

Martha, truly beloved of Jesus, pray for us!

Martha received him into her house. And [her] sister Mary sat at ...

From Mary to Martha

Martha, Martha!
Help me, Martha!
Sorrow has struck to the bone.
My Love is cold.
My heart is old.
Can you roll back the stone?

When He did come,
I sat at home.
I would not see His Face.
You called me to greet.
I fell at His Feet,
but I could not beg for grace.

“What if,” I ask,
“You’d failed your task
as I so willingly did?
I only could moan.
Your faith rolled the stone.
Our brother would still be hid!”

Laz’rus was raised;
upon us he gazed,
by Christ returned to life.
Your faith saved him!
And, filled to the brim,
we struck up the drum and fife!

Strong love, again
allowed to reign,
He healed my broken heart.
Sweetness He made
everything that you said,
else my mouth would cast a dart.

Martha, Martha!”
He called you, Martha,
with gentleness in His voice.
O how He loved you!
Yet, of us two,
I’d made the better choice.

So He said.
Yet my tears have fed
me all the night and day.
To have this love
from Heav’n above
was meant to be my pay.

But love was pierced
with sorrow first,
then lance thrust in His side.
My heart was burst,
will always thirst,
and never be satisfied.

“The stone, the stone!”
This still I moan.
“Who will roll it away?
I can’t take my place
at His Feet, see His Face,
now at the break of day.”

Thank God for the birds
who don’t need words
to offer Him proper praise!
And for you, Martha, too.
You love and you do,
while I can’t escape this daze…

We must away
at the first ray
to the tomb of Him above.
Thank God for you!
Teach me to do
that I might act my love!

Empty Tomb

Just one thing more. When she goes to the tomb that Sunday morning, Mary finds it empty. She is struck with a deep horror. Where is her Love? How can she serve Him when His body is gone? She jibbers in the garden, wounded and begging.

May the emptiness of our churches have so happy an ending!

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