Mary and Martha

John 11:1-46
John 12:1-11

There were times when Lazarus wished he were dead
back in the childhood years,
when Martha wrestled with Mary's head
and Mary bit her sister's ears:
life must be more in Bethany
than to be his sisters' referee.

Now Martha was a pair of hands
that labored till they nearly bled.
She conquered all domestic lands
and baked for them a house of bread.
How hard it was for Mary to listen
to the music in her sister's kitchen.

For Mary was a singing heart
whose voice beat paths to highest heaven
with perfumed breath and incensed art
her prayer rose like laughing leaven.
How often Martha seemed to wait
for Mary's dreams to clean her plate.

"Score one for Martha," Lazarus quoted
within his book of philosophy.
"For the first thing that our Savior noted
was Martha's hospitality.
From this I glean without dispute
that practical matters are the proper pursuit.” 

Then he who had judged so many rounds
of the Beauty/Truth parade
was stunned by the voice of silent sounds
his sister Mary made.
Their Master took her side of the debate--
"They also serve who only stand and wait."

Finally, Lazarus had to die
to give them stereoscopic sight,
little knowing that each watered eye 
was only practicing what it must soon recite.
Each now saw the other side
of that one talent which is death to hide.

After the beautiful work of rebirth
Martha went back to preparing a meal
Mary anointed the body of incomparable worth,
both truth and beauty had learned to kneel.
Together they laughed at the disciples' worried heads
for both of them knew there was plenty of bread.
As they grew in stature and grace
and girlish ways became the ladies
Lazarus loved their dual embrace
which barred for him the gate to Hades.
When Lazarus finally died he knew this:
that Mary and Martha would share a kiss.

Charles Erlandson

Fr. Charles Erlandson served as rector of St. Chrysostom’s Reformed Episcopal Church in Hot Spring, Arkansas. In 2009, God called him back home to Tyler and Good Shepherd Church and School, to teach high school and serve as assistant rector. He teaches at Cranmer Theological House and is the Church History Department Head. Fr. Erlandson also writes a daily Bible devotional, available online or through e-mail subscription, called Give Us This Day. He has written several recent books: Orthodox Anglican Identity, Love Me, Love My Wife, and Take This Cup.

'Mary and Martha' have 2 comments

  1. February 20, 2020 @ 2:22 pm Paul Thompson

    Very nice.


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