Dearest Members of Bethlehem,
“As she swept, she thought, ‘Rrrrrrgh! Mary knows how to use a broom!’ As she cooked, she said to herself, ‘Harrumph! I think my sister could at least stir this pot!’” -Spark Story Bible, page 369
“But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came and asked, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.’” -Luke 10:40
It doesn’t matter whether you have been steeped in the Bible for decades or have just recently undertaken a more serious exploration of scripture, language matters.
We started this morning’s devotion with two scripture quotes, from the very same spot in the Gospel of Luke. Now, I’m going to pretend to be an ophthalmologist… what do you see as your eyes move over these two translations?
The temptation is to devolve into a kind of competitive comparison; one is wrong, one is right. One is better, or one is worse. One is simply juvenile, and the other much more mature. I would encourage you to work against those kinds of convenient binaries.
They are distinct translations, the latter is a little truer to the original Greek, and that is very important as we seek to faithfully convey the sacred narrative. But the former, from the “Spark Story Bible,” is also just as worthy of our consideration for the way in which the language compels us to think anew about a biblical account we think we “know.”
The Word of God, the Holy Scriptures, cannot be “mastered.” There is always something to be discovered, seen, or understood that we had not previously grasped.
Think of it this way, I take the same route to the office every single morning. I have been doing this for well over a decade. I “know” the way to Bethlehem Lutheran in Glenshaw, but with every trip I absolutely expect to see something new. There’s a deer in the brush, Tiger Lilies burst into bloom on a hillside, an ambulance sits outside a neighbor’s house.
Now, and this is crucial… it’s not just that we see something new, but the new experience (one might even call it a revelation or epiphany) reshapes the way we understand the world in which we live and how we live in it. If I see an ambulance outside the neighbor’s house; I can make some guesses about their health, I will plan to stop by later in the day, and I will resolve to offer some assistance if I can.
The same applies to reading the Bible, even the stories that are most familiar to us. It’s not just about uncovering the next bit of wisdom, it’s also about how that treasured insight might inform our lives of discipleship.
Kind of cool to think (thanks to the “Spark Story Bible”) that the story of Mary and Martha will always have the power to “stir the pot” (in a good way), no matter how many times we translate, read, and discuss it.
Question for reflection: If you could choose any Bible story to retell in your own words, which would it be? What sorts of details could you justifiably add to engage the imagination, or capture the attention of your audience?
Yours in Christ,
God of love, sometimes we get so caught up in “getting everything done,” that we forget to genuinely enjoy the work that you have set before us. Bless us Lord, so that we don’t get so distracted by the appetizers of life, that we end up missing the main course. We pray this all in Jesus’ name, Amen.