Consider Martha, sister to Mary and Lazarus. Martha hosted a dinner party for Jesus in Luke 10:38-42. For some stress-prone readers that thought accelerated the mind to turbo—all the preparation, cooking, cleaning, and decorating. We readily understand Martha’s conflict with her sister.
Here’s a transcript of a fictional interview with Martha. Perhaps from her answers you and I can learn something…
Iwanna Know: Welcome to this week’s episode of People in Perspective. I’m your host, Iwanna Know, and in the next 30 minutes we will peek into the life of Martha Stressor from Bethany.
Martha is the chairwoman of the Municipal Garden Club, president of the Parent Teachers Association at Public School #1, and vice-chairperson of Greater Judea Welcomes You. Martha writes the weekly P’s and Q’s column for the Jerusalem Chronicle sharing timely advice for hostesses. In her spare time, she’s written, Shining Dining, the reference book for consummate dinner parties. Welcome, Martha.
Martha Stressor: Thank you, Iwanna.
Iwanna Know: I’m breathless after reading your impressive list of accomplishments. How do you find the time?
Martha Stressor: Iwanna, the successful life demands maximizing every moment. I’m always in motion doing, thinking, and planning. Unused seconds represent missed opportunities.
Iwanna Know: I take it you’re not a person who enjoys surprises?
Martha Stressor: Not at all. I prefer to be perfectly put together and prepared for any contingency.
Iwanna Know: You had a visit from a Person of interest recently. How did finding Jesus on your doorstep fit into your schedule?
Martha Stressor: It’s not every day one has an opportunity to welcome Jesus for a visit. He’s a family friend and stays with us when He’s in the area. As I explain in Shining Dining, life often dictates that we juggle our plans and postpone appointments to accommodate special moments.
Iwanna Know: Your book covers preparation for formal entertaining. How does that wisdom apply to an impromptu meal for a last-minute visitor?
Martha Stressor: An experienced hostess adapts. Omitting time-intensive facets in favor of quicker solutions is the key.
Iwanna Know: What do you do to serve a proper meal to Jesus?
Martha Stressor: Ambiance is critical. Cleanliness is paramount, and I spritz the air with water laced with lemon zest to cover any odors. The chairs are waxed to a shine. The silver is polished and placed in the correct positions. Napkins are folded into animal shapes to add a dash of whimsy. And of course, the seating arrangement is chosen so guests are treated to enjoyable repartee. Placing the government’s tax collector next to a radical zealot is bad form. I add the personal touch of hand-lettered place cards and arrange fresh flowers to give the table a finished look.
Iwanna Know: Rumor has it this latest visit caused a rift between you and your sister, Mary. What happened?
Martha Stressor: Mary is a dear, but she doesn’t grasp the importance of making a good impression on Jesus and the entourage traveling with Him. She sat on the floor as Jesus talked with the men, and her absence from serving duties doubled my work load. I maintained a frenetic pace but realized the perfect dinner party was heading for disaster. I interrupted the discussion and demanded that Jesus order Mary to help.
Iwanna Know: How did Jesus respond?
Martha Stressor: He told me I was concerned about too many things, and He gave approval to Mary’s choice. I was hurt and could not believe His answer. I wasn’t sure how the meal would be prepared if we all followed Mary’s lead. Someone had to do the work.
Iwanna Know: Now that you’ve had some time to think about that response, was Jesus right?
Martha Stressor: Jesus is always right. If I opted for a simpler meal that evening I could have joined the conversation. Instead I was rushing about with unnecessary preparations.
Iwanna Know: Simplify? That’s odd advice from the writer of P’s and Q’s.
Martha Stressor: I’m learning that I can do things in a proper manner without becoming consumed by infinite details. Enjoying the presence of Jesus outweighs folding the napkins into little animals.
Iwanna Know: I understand you have a new book coming out. Tell us about it.
Martha Stressor: The title is Calm Down. It’s my story since that encounter with Jesus. I’m discovering peace and contentment by determining what really matters. Saying no and choosing activities wisely are key practices for finding a realistic pace in life. Investing unhurried time with family and friends beats a panic-filled rush to achieve the unreasonable expectations we set for ourselves.
Iwanna Know: Sounds like timely advice in a stress-filled world. We’ll be looking for the book, Martha. Thank you for sharing and best of everything in the future.
Martha Stressor: Thank you, Iwanna.