Friday, November 27, 2009

In defense of Martha, no, no, not THAT Martha! Not the Martha whose recipes either don't LOOK like those pictures, or, worse, don't TASTE like the description. Not the Martha whose Christmas craft we discarded after going to great lengths to find and purchase the accordion paper that was the main component. Not the Martha whose Thanksgiving decorations this year featured a palette of violet and silver. Un-uh.
No, I'm talking about biblical Martha whom the Lord chastised, albeit gently, for not choosing the right thing. Is there a hostess born of man who has not harbored secret empathy for this Martha as she hustled and bustled about the home, trying to make it perfect for her perfect Guest?
That's who I was thinking about this past week as preparations for a family Thanksgiving feast led me to dog ear recipes in magazines, make repeated trips to the HyVee, and leave great puddles of oil, grease and butter on the counters and tile of my kitchen. That Martha would also have counted chairs, counted spoons and forks (had they existed !) lit the fire, turned on all the lights, and lit the candles just for beauty's sake. Probably she also had way more food in the house than anyone could eat as each guest brought a dish that someone in the house liked better than anything. I don't imagine a hush in the house...surely there was the same sound that precedes a concert, the hum and buzz of anticipation that crescendoed as their household welcomed one more guest to meet Jesus.
Our house was happily loud with conversation after our dinner prayer. Gabe came over to hold my hand so we could pray together, then sounded a hearty 'amen'.
After we'd divided the leftovers, sending the rest of the paper plates with meals for the morrow, I waited up to load the dishwasher a second time. I washed the glasses by hand and set them to drain, but ignored the smashed crackers in the dining room. Were we too concerned with the material matters of the day? Oh, I guess. I'm sure no one cared if there were napkin rings, or if the little tea lights in the windows were lit, or even if there were centerpieces at all. Magazine Martha would have blanched at the fact I only have one set of salt and pepper to my name. But trying to make a pleasant evening for those you love is also an act of service in a small way and acknowledgment of what we've been given. I'm not second guessing the Lord's priorities here, don't get me wrong. Rather, sorting the last silverware on Thanksgiving evening and shoving the last Ziploc in the fridge, I felt peaceful, and prayerful, and thankful, and close to the verse that admonishes us to, 'Be still, and know that I am God.'

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