It is encouraging to know, as I write, that the infection rate of Covid-19 is gradually declining within our country. I hope that when you read this message, this will still be the case. One thing I have noticed about this pandemic is that people have either been overburdened by work, as they may be an essential worker, or they have had too little. This reminded me very much of those wonderful characters in the Gospel, Mary and Martha. As I am sure you are aware they were sisters and they also had a brother called Lazarus. The whole family were friends of Jesus and often welcomed Him into their home.
The two sisters were not alike. Martha was the ‘doer’ and Mary was the one who was content in ‘being’ and listening. They were both very different characters and so it was easy for them to criticize the other. This is what happened in the well-known passage when Martha became rather annoyed with Mary for listening to Jesus rather than helping her in the kitchen. There are many ways of interpreting this passage. Some, for instance, tell us that Mary was in the right for being attentive to Jesus who was the guest. Whereas, others say that Martha was doing her best too for ensuring that she served the needs of the guest. My hunch is that they were both right in that each of them was serving and loving their friend and guest in a way that they knew they could do well.
This pandemic of Covid-19 has changed peoples’ lives dramatically and there is still much suffering, grief over people who have lost their lives and, like Martha, there are many people who are overburdened with work. On the other hand there are others who have much more time on their hands, which can be used creatively for reflection and prayer. It is of course right and proper to be extremely thankful for all the ‘doers’ who have worked so hard during this pandemic. However, those who are more contemplative also have played a part, as their gifts of listening to people’s emotional and spiritual needs are essential too.
The world needs both types of people in order to provide for the physical, mental and spiritual needs of everyone. Coming through the peak of the crisis, this is becoming very evident, as we hear not only of people’s physical suffering but also of their problems with their mental and spiritual health.
I hope by the time you read this, life may be a little bit more like ‘normal’ and that you may be able to enjoy meeting again with your family and friends. Hopefully too it won’t be much longer before our churches can open once again for worship and prayer.
May God bless you and please do get in touch with me or a member of the ministry team if you have any concerns or just need to have a chat.
Reverend Sarah Walsh,
Rector of Dickleburgh and the Pulhams.