Rambling for Kirwan Uniting Church Keeping in Touch newsletter 4 July 2021

So, essential food shopping only during lockdown. Dan Murphy proclaim that they are open for the purchase of essential fluids, and the self-serve checkout at Coles yesterday didn’t prevent me from scanning several bars of Whittaker’s essential chocolate. Regarding lockdown shopping and Essential, we might say of it what Inigo Montoya said to Vizzini: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means”.

Luke 10:38-42 tells the story of Jesus being welcomed into Martha’s house. You know the story well, a crowd of disciples invite themselves in, too, and sit rapt at Jesus’ feet while Martha rushes around making the coffee and scones. Martha’s sister, Mary, is among the disciple audience. Martha remonstrates with Jesus, “Tell my sister to get off her bottom and come and help me!” What does Jesus reply? “Martha, Martha,” (remind you of ‘Marcia, Marcia, Marcia’ in the Brady Bunch?) “Only one thing is essential. Mary gets it”.

Weird pericope by Luke, if you ask me. Just like John’s account of “Doubting Thomas”. Perfectly sensible questions by both of them, and each cast as a minor villain. It was Martha’s house, after all, and the Torah is clear that a householder has a duty of hospitality. Why, this week’s gospel has Jesus telling the disciples to expect to be offered hospitality when they enter a house.

Preachers perform all sorts of hermeneutic contortions when confronted with the text. Me? I just concentrate on verse 38: “ … a woman named Martha welcomed Jesus into her home”. Now there’s essential.

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