Busy work

Reflection for Tuesday, July 23:

Luke 10

Busy. Busy. Busy. We’re all so busy… being busy: planning and doing, getting and keeping, fussing and fixing. Our inflated egos tell us that if God really wanted us to have some time for him, he should have made 48-hour days and 14-day weeks. But chances are we’d still fill up the extra time with lots more busy work. And that doesn’t mean we are all over-worked Martha’s: single-handedly struggling to serve a house full of family and friends. In fact, many of the busiest people we know are busy plugging away at their TV remotes and IPods; only stirring from the couch to go to bed.

What would you do if Jesus crossed your busy threshold today? Like Martha would you stay in the kitchen baking a tuna casserole or fussing over the vegetable lasagna? Or like Mary would you fall at the feet of Jesus and soak up every word of the Savior? These questions are not hypothetical. Jesus stands at our door every moment, waiting to be invited in. And he’s not here for the cuisine or the hospitality. He’s come for your life… not to take it, but to give it.

There is no subtlety in this gospel. Jesus tells us directly to get our priorities straight. It is not a case of choosing between good and evil. It is a matter of choosing Christ above all else. Jesus tells Martha: Only one thing is important. Mary has chosen the better thing, and it will never be taken from her. Seen in the context of scripture, the choice is obvious. Life in and for Christ trumps all. But fast-forward to 21st Century reality and the picture can become very blurry. The physical Jesus has returned to the Father. The physical realities of paying the mortgage, keeping your job, feeding the kids, finishing the project, getting ahead, having some fun… they are all in your face 24/7. They can fill-up and consume our lives, crowding out Christ. But only if we let them.

In composing the perfect prayer, Jesus instructs us to ask for “our daily bread,” but only after we have established that God’s priorities are our priorities: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done.” By God’s command we are here to build the kingdom. We are instruments of his will. That is our purpose. By consequence of our human condition we must also toil for our sustenance and all its adjunct amenities. But that is not our purpose. We do not: live by bread alone, but by every word from the mouth of the God. Humble, attentive, loving Mary knows this instinctively. Busy Martha must be reminded: Feed the soul first.

The traditional definition of prayer is lifting our hearts and minds to God. If we undertake every task of the day in this spirit, there is no busy work … only prayer. Living and working in Christ there is no tedium. There is only Te Deum.

Committed to a vocation that focuses on encountering God in the midst of everyday life, the Rev. David Sellery serves as an Episcopal priest that seeks to proclaim the good news of God in Christ in worship, pastoral care, education, stewardship, and congregational growth.

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