The Better Part
“Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing.” – Luke 10:41-42a (NRSV)
For the last 10 days a reminder has popped up every morning at 7 a.m. on my phone. It says simply, “Pray for people!” Setting that reminder was one of my first acts of pastoring in a pandemic.
The morning after I saw my congregations for the last time, I took the list of our members and friends and divided it up, a few people each day. Every morning, I remind myself to pray for them. And so far, I have.
“So what?!” you may be saying. “You’re a minister! You should have been doing that all along!”
OK, arguably, yes.
But I wasn’t. Not like this.
And yes, I’m sure there are more faithful ministers who have been at it their whole careers. And yes, there are probably more faithful ministers who, having started the practice, would keep it going after quarantine is over. (But between you and I, the chances of that for me are not good.)
Still, there’s some value in recognizing what’s important in a crisis. Like a global pandemic or God’s anointed one dropping in unannounced.
Mary seizes the moment to sit and listen. To connect. To go deeper. She understands that something is happening and her priorities need to change.
Which is not to say that our own moment is an opportunity. Or – God forbid! – a gift. Or that there is any call to look for a silver lining.
Just that something is happening. And we might do well to live differently, even just for the moment. In case you, like me, need reminders.
With all the parts of life that are missing, give us the better parts.
Vince Amlin is co-pastor of Bethany UCC, Chicago, and co-planter of Gilead Church Chicago, forming now.