Martha, Mary and “theology stuff”


From time to time a couple of lovebirds will be interviewed on television. A couple who have been married for decades.  And the highlight is ALWAYS when the interviewer looks at the husband and asks how the two of them have survived for so long together. And the husband ALWAYS smiles and replies: “Just say yes dear … always say “Yes dear.”” And the wife NEVER denies that truth. And the natural order of things is maintained for another generation!

We all watch and chuckle. We all know it is much more complicated than that. We are all in relationships and we all know it is NOT about always saying yes. It is about partnership. It is about equality and diversity. It is about growth and regeneration. It is about so much MORE than simply saying “Yes dear”

It was thinking about the Chosen People wandering around the desert for forty years that brought on this thought.  My going through a patch right now wherein local “church” and all that goes with it feels like that desert brought on the Chosen People thought.

Anyway …

The website for my daily verses tells me that today is “Martha Day” – Saint Martha Day …

Many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.” John 11:19-27

These verses allow us to see all the good stuff in the exchange between Saint Martha and Jesus.  Loads of theology here!  Loads of be more like Martha” stuff!   Loads of teaching and preaching!!

Except He did that thing again … No Saint Martha … just:  “I am the resurrection and the life.”  which He stripped back to just: “I Am”

No “I might be”, “I could be”, wait for the end times and “I will be”. No “when you figure this out”, “when you have learned enough”, “when you know a thing or two” … Nothing at all complicated. Nothing learned. Nothing academic. No marching around the desert for forty years figuring this out.  None of that.

Follow Me.  I Am.  Yes Dear.

Except we never do that.  We do the desert thing.  We do the complicated thing.  We do all that “stuff” for each of our own decades.  So this morning I think that “old bloke” has relationship figured out in two words: “Yes dear.”  And I think his wife has it figured out as well – that is why she never disagrees with him.

Saying “Yes dear” is NOT a power trip for either. Saying “Yes dear” works for both. Those two small words are the tip of the iceberg. And the “massive love” we never see (below the surface) is the rest. “Yes dear” works. Just as “Follow Me” works. Just as “I Am” works. Just as they are all just the tip of the iceberg in a wonderful relationship between Creator and Created.  A relationship that becomes more and more Creator and Creator.  That becomes much more Personal and Personal.  That becomes much more Equal and Equal.

(wait for the lightning bolt … )

“Yes Dear” works. “I Am” works. “Follow Me” works.

Which reminds me of Mary, mother of Jesus, and her words at that wedding: “Just say yes to whatever He asks.”

In my current period of desert wandering, contemplating my navel, pondering the dynamics and frustrations of church life and community, encountering a wide range of diverse personalities … wondering if God is so well hidden I am missing something important … wondering whether God is even present in some I encounter … All of that “stuff” …

He came to me this morning and showed me that “Yes Dear” works. He showed me how He says “Yes Dear” to me every second of every day.

Yet I still struggle to say “Yes Dear” back to Him. I am still in that struggle with complexity of relationship. I am still seeking my own identity and validation.  I still have “stuff”.

Those paired words are not “stereotypes”. Not unless I don’t “get it” – not unless I prefer the desert – not unless I am so clever I can’t make it simple – can’t make love simple – as I search endlessly for unconditional love in these lengthy essays(!) –

And today I just sit here – all loved-up – and hear Him say those two wonderful words:

“Yes dear.”

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17 thoughts on “Martha, Mary and “theology stuff”

  1. There’s some confrontation here, too. Martha begins by rebuking Jesus, pointing out that he let the family down. Even in the sanitized version we have in Scripture, we get hints at the brutal intimacy of the exchange. Remember, too, as a woman, she’s supposed to be subservient in this culture. But she’s not. And she calls Jesus to a higher level of action and teaching, one that leads straight to the crowds on Palm Sunday as the news spreads.

    • Hi Jnana, and thank you. I wonder why we find that so surprising as so many of us (I have – and do) blame “Him” from time to time. Admitting it is something I usually never hear.
      So thank you – you have brought God closer with the words He took you to.
      And I often wonder whether “calls” as you mention are only for our benefit:
      “See that – you blamed Me – you challenged Me – you “told Me”! That’s really all okay too – come closer – please come closer and just put away all that ‘I should and should not’ stuff that gets in the way.”

  2. I have always found the Lazarus tale so much more profound than the resurrection tale.
    It amazes me that Professional Apologists like Habermas or Licona don’t really go to town on why Lazarus’ resurrection is a real historical event. I mean, Jesus himself was there, he did it and there must have been a fair amount of witnesses, friendly and hostile and yet …..
    not a word of this outside the bible? Really baffling that a bloke is raised from the dead after four days, stinking to high heaven and suddenly there he is right as nine-pence and not a soul says a Dicky bird. I wonder why this is, Paul?
    Could it be one of the reasons this story is only mentioned in one gospel and noone else touches it with a barge pole?
    Perhaps this was a later interpolation?

    It certainly has an air of make believe, don’t you think?
    But then, that’s probably my imagination as I’m sure the bible writers – whoever they were – would not stoop to telling ”Porky-Pies”, now would they?
    😉

    • Hiya Ark – I love that phrase: Professional Apologists. Wouldn’t have a clue what one is nor why one is even needed. But thank you! 🙂
      You always make some (tongue in cheek) serious points. And that adds value for me. Thank you.
      Because we are both preaching theories of belief – yours has as much value as mine. So –
      I think bible writers are as capable of telling “porky pies” as any of us. I think the number of interpretations and rewrites over the years makes errors very likely. My preference is that phrase “The Living Word” which is akin (for me) to hearing “I Love You” each time I read the bible. Beats reading a dry and dusty text-book every time! And to “evidence” –
      I talk to “God” (really???).
      You want evidence “of faith” (really???).
      I see distraction tactics in you.
      You see evasion tactics in me.
      Such are matters of love and belief and faith.
      But I know what I have, and I see (some of) what you have. I see in both of us a love of beauty, a love of family, a love of connection and a love of watching living things “work”. So you (in these responses) make a study of evidence, and I make a study of relationship.
      And that leaves me saying Thank You for spending a few minutes reading these words and then adding your own.
      That allows anyone passing by to think about both our words in whatever way they prefer to read them.

      • Hiya Ark – I love that phrase: Professional Apologists. Wouldn’t have a clue what one is nor why one is even needed. But thank you! 🙂

        One could consider a professional Christian apologist a humongous Arse-Hat the likes of Gary Habermas, Mike Licona and William Lane Craig, to name three who get paid to spread falsehood.
        But then, I suppose the Pope and his sick ilk or anyone who earns money from lying in this field as a profession would qualify.

        Tell me, Paul, is it because you,and so many Christians,lack basic integrity that do not tackle such subjects as the resurrection of Lazarus and merely hand wave it away or ignore such awkward or difficult subjects when asked to engage?
        Why not ‘’man up’’ and truly address the topic?
        Flowery rhetoric does not make you look more humble, more spiritual more intelligent or more open to genuine dialogue. Seriously, it just makes you look like a damn coward.

        • And so it begins. We have had this – and a much longer and wide-ranging offline – conversation by email. I learned something then. When I do not answer your question in the way you want it answered – the insults begin. And when I asked a question of you – you were as “evasive” (as you see in me) but chose not to acknowledge that (just as you accuse me).
          There was a sameness then. And a sameness now.
          You want me to use the language you choose, the labels you pick and the terminology of your beliefs.
          I have the same difficulty with those who insist there only is one God as defined by “them”, that He inhabits the Western world, has nothing in common with any other “faith”, and requires “believers” to sign-up to “our” way of seeing and doing things. I find that as unpalatable as your approach. I find any “belief” that insists I must agree with you and exclude them wholly unpalatable.
          You call that cowardice. I call that love.
          We all make choices. Why try and impose yours on mine? How is that “loving”? How is that any less “evil” than your repeated accusations of evil “religion”? And then my dilemma is compounded by this:
          Religion (for me) is not relationship. When it comes to God, for you it seems it must be. That is your choice. I feel no desire to impose my choices on you. Doesn’t stop me being curious – nor does it stop me seeing much in common with you. Just means I have no desire to trade insults or prove to you that you are wrong.

          Which brings me back to “faith” and “evidence” and “proof” and “religion”.

          • And so it begins. We have had this – and a much longer and wide-ranging offline – conversation by email.
            I learned something then. When I do not answer your question in the way you want it answered – the insults begin. And when I asked a question of you – you were as “evasive” (as you see in me) but chose not to acknowledge that (just as you accuse me).

            Email? When? Refresh my memory.
            Never been evasive over these issues in my life. Maybe you have me confused with someone else, Paul? Feel free to ask whatever questions you feel I have not answered.

            But let’s not stray too far. Tell me why you do not question or address the resurrection of Lazarus?

            I have the same difficulty with …..etc
            You call that cowardice. I call that love.

            Nope, it is cowardice or if you prefer, willful ignorance.
            What you fail to take into consideration – or choose to simply ignore – is that religion permeates almost every facet of life on this planet at one level or another and it is responsible for untold misery and heinous violence; based on the arseholes who teach it as truth. Why are you unable to recognise this fact?
            That you refuse to engage the subject , yet still feel perfectly happy to quote the bible and wring out some sort of spiritual message to apparently appease your fear of facing reality is testament to just how despicable religion is.

            We all make choices. Why try and impose yours on mine?

            I am not imposing my choices on you. I am wondering why you continue to espouse the filth that is religion, and in this case Christianity, and grandstanding in your own way that it is truth, when it is nothing but lies, built upon a foundation of false doctrine. And worse, that a great many others teach it to kids as fact and truth. And you are an adult and still believe which should be cause for concern.

            Religion (for me) is not relationship. When it comes to God, etc

            What god are you talking about, Paul? Please be specific.

            • 23/12/2015
              One extract at the end of the email correspondence:
              “Are you punting for an online pen pal relationship with a die hard atheist?”
              The conversation was as I described above.

            • I regularly empty my inbox. Is this all there was?
              What prompted the correspondence? Did I invite you to write to me? I really can’t remember.

              So, will you address the Lazarus resurrection issue, now?

            • Ark, you seem to think I owe you. That you have the right to say right here whatever you think, in whatever way you wish, however you want – and that I should allow that without any regard for my own expectations and those of others. That is not reality and that is not community. When you are edited, there is no reason to act all hurt and “sensitive”. There are consequences to acting as a bully.

              As to your question: please move forward two posts where you will find my answer. Thank you.

              (PS – any further comments are subject to moderation – consequences again)

            • Really? You are that sensitive?
              And you deleted the link as well. Scared to see what your religion does in the name of your god?

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