Mother’s Day: The Best of Both Worlds l Luke 10:28-42 l Chapel Hill Church Gig Harbor
Happy Mother’s Day! Two weeks ago, I took the mother of our children to visit our daughter Rachel in North Carolina…and together we shared a brand-new adventure: the drag races. How many of you have been to a drag race? This was a National Hot Rod Association regional held at zMAX Dragway in Charlotte, N.C., the first four-car-wide drag strip in the country. It seats 30,000 fans. It was a very American experience.
They raced pro stock, funny cars, and even motorcycles. The motorcycles reach 200 MPH. But the most exciting segment was the races featuring four top fuel dragsters side by side. They are known as “nitros” because they burn nitromethane…in their 11,000 horsepower HEMI V-8 engines. I went to the starting line…and made two new friends. Bob…and Rob…who knew everything about this event.
The blue lights on what they call the “Christmas Tree” indicate when each car is in the position. Then the amber lights flash…and then the green…and off they go. I have never heard or felt anything like the sound and power of those four nitro engines blasting off from the starting line. It was concussive…and it was…awesome!
Now…you might be saying, “Pastor Mark, this is a fascinating story. But shouldn’t you have saved it for Father’s Day? After all, this is Mother’s Day. Top Fuel drag racing isn’t exactly an appropriate opener for a Mother’s Day sermon.” To which I would reply, “Au contraire!” I was present for this race…which set a new track record. See if you notice something interesting about the winner.
336 MPH…in 1000 feet…a record! And did you catch the name of the winner? Brittany Force. Brittany is a two-time NHRA national champion. In fact, more and more women are making it big in drag racing. Did you know that? And my new best buddy Bob told me why: “It’s the tree. Women have a faster reaction time to the lights than the men.” Perhaps I shouldn’t have been, but I was blown away…by this young woman who is dominating a historically male event. So, there…Happy Mother’s Day!
This morning’s story from Luke features a similar shocking revelation. A woman…making her name in an historically male setting. It may not seem shocking to you…but believe me, at the time, it was a real eye-opener. See if you can spot it.
“Now as [Jesus and his disciples] went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:28-42
Did you spot the surprise? Jesus is on his way toward Jerusalem and the cross that awaits him. Near the outskirts of the city, they stop at a village called Bethany…the home of Martha and her siblings. You might remember her brother’s name from a story in John’s gospel…Lazarus. Lazarus, the guy Jesus raised from the dead. This is that family. These three siblings…Martha, Mary, and Lazarus…were dear friends and supporters of Jesus. And in their home…Luke makes a surprising declaration. Did you see it?
“And [Martha] had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching.” Luke 10:39
What’s surprising about that? Simply this: the words used to describe what Mary was doing…were words typically used to describe the relationship between a rabbi and his disciple. To “sit at the feet” and “listen to the teaching” of a rabbi…was something only a disciple did. Why was this shocking? Because rabbis never had women disciples. It was unheard of. It was men who studied the Torah. Women were expected to do essentially what Martha was doing: Keep house, prepare meals, provide hospitality…so that the men could do the more important work of studying the Bible.