Reordering for 2024
A bit about Martha and this upcoming year
Last Wednesday, I had the opportunity to share a bit about Martha of Bethany and her story in Luke 10. It’s a bit of an infamous story that I’d argue has been often misunderstood/read out of context in recent history.
In the story, we see Martha doing good and beautiful work. She’s opened her home to welcome Jesus and his disciples. She’s hard at work serving them. It’s easy to forget that Jesus and his crew were not the popular of ancient Israelite society. They weren’t wealthy. Jesus was a tradesman on the outs with the popular and respected religious leaders. At least two of his disciples had questionable political connections, representing two sides of the political spectrum.
And Martha welcomed them into her home and fed them. She was loving her neighbor. She was not the religious hypocrite Jesus warned against in Luke 6 from the Sermon on the Plain and Luke 10 in the Good Samaritan. Somewhere along the way, we can speculate she’d heard and witnessed the message of Jesus’ welcome for all, and she was following his example by extending hospitality to him and his followers.
And yet, something went awry for Martha. Her life of obedience was distracting her from the aim of her obedience: life with God. Something was disordered in her heart; she had put her calling ahead of Jesus, the one who called her. The result? Distraction, complaining, comparison (her sister was spending time with Jesus instead of helping her) and questioning God’s care for her. It’s not pretty.
But one gift Martha’s story offers is that she shows where to take distraction, complaining, comparing and questioning. She went to her guest of honor, Jesus. And in his reply he offers an invitation:
“Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
On her Substack a few weeks ago, my friendreflected on the Luke 10 story of Martha and wrote the following:
Often, we need to simplify dinner to make room for Jesus. Martha’s capacity—for extravagant dinner prep and attentive, obedient listening—failed her, as it will often fail us. We cannot attend every important thing, all at the same time. Like Mary, then, we must then courageously choose the thing that matters most—and in this story, as in our lives, it is Christ’s presence.
By God’s grace, 2024 looks to be a year of beginnings and milestones for me and my family. Some are particularly special. Others are more of the ordinary type.
First up, I begin seminary a week from today. This is a latent dream I’ve held for more than a decade and I still can’t believe it’s happening. I’m so thankful for the various pieces that have come together to make it possible. I’ll be working on a grad certificate in biblical and systematic theology. Yesterday, my first book for my first class arrived. Pinch me.
I’m sure I’ll share more about the other beginnings and milestones as they come. As I’ve reflected on courageously choosing seminary (and other things) in this season of life, I’ve realized I’ll need to make a few changes here. I had big plans for this space for 2024 before everything unfolded with seminary. So for now, now I’m saying “no” to those plans.
So reflecting on what I’ve learned from Martha, I’m calculating my capacity and simplifying in many areas of my life, including here. Instead of (attempting) a weekly post, I hope to write a monthly post about what I’m reading, eating, enjoying and learning. I’m under no illusion that these particulars matter to most you, ha! I know most of you are just along for the ride. Yet, I think there’s value to sharing a thought process for how we choose “yeses” and “nos.” I’m so thankful for the community of readers who read, comment and email me, and I hope you’ll stick around.
A bit random, but If you’re interested in seeing what I’m reading and following along in real-ish time, (and possibly let me see what you’re reading) I’m planning to make use of the app StoryGraph this year to track my reading. If you want an app to track your reading but get frustrated with Goodreads, I really like StoryGraph. You can find me at @abigailmurrish.
I’ll also be helping Jen Michel with her Rule of Life online intensives in 2024, and I’d love to see you there! A Rule of Life has been an valuable practice to help me inhabit time with wisdom and faithfulness, and I can’t recommend Jen’s workshops highly enough. Find details here.
Until I see you in February, may we receive the invitation Jesus offers Martha in Luke, may we not neglect his company while living a life of love for neighbor in the nooks and crannies of our lives.