Last week, leading up to Easter, I was struggling. All my inadequacies as a mom and homemaker were being highlighted for all to see. My inbox mocked me with pictures of perfectly presented, encrusted racks of lamb, and beautifully set Easter dinner tables. Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma chided me for not purchasing new dishes and redecorating my living room in springy pastels. Magazine covers displaying picturesque painted eggs pointed out that I had neglected my children's well-being by not teaching them how to make mini-Faberges. Even the Target dollar section whispered to me that I, too, could have the perfect Easter morning egg hunt. Martha smiled serenely from my television, demonstrating the perfect Easter Brunch. My friends and neighbors with the Martha gene hung out banners and little eggs from their trees. I have a banner too, I just didn't know where it was. Perfect Martha moms at pre-school put on a beautiful Easter party for the kids. One of them kindly sent me home with extra bunches of green knives and forks wrapped in orange napkins and green pipe cleaners to help me set my Easter table. Adorable little bunches of utensil carrots. Perfect. I am so thankful for friends like this because I have the Martha gene too, but it is recessive and only expressed in frustration, never in perfection. At least I haven't done time. Thankfully, in the midst of all the pastel perfection, I was reminded of another Martha from another time. You may have heard of her. She was the ber-hostess of her day, very concerned about the comfort of her guests and making sure everything was perfect. It really was a delight to be invited to Martha's for Sunday dinner because you knew the food was going to be good. But she was a little uptight about getting it all to the table and more than a little annoyed when her family didn't appreciate the effort it took. One fine day Martha was hosting a special guest and she really wanted everything to be perfect. She fussed over the rack of lamb and made sure there were place cards directing her guests to the carefully considered seats she had chosen for them. She paused to check the pitas and brushed the hair out of her eyes. She glanced into the living room and there was Mary, her sister, sitting with their guest and his followers, doing nothing to help! Martha couldn't take it anymore. She marched into the room and appealed to Jesus, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" I like to imagine that Jesus smiled at her tenderly, took her hand and led her to the seat beside him. "Martha, Martha," he said. "You are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her." Martha, we can eat off paper plates and I don't care if we just have falafel. Let's spend some time together while I am with you. In this story in Luke, Martha is described as "being distracted by all the preparations that had to be made." This Easter weekend, we did dye Easter eggs and enjoyed a special Easter brunch with friends in spite of my frustrated desires for perfection. Our table was graced with pretty utensil carrots. The eggs were a little more Picasso than Faberge, and the brunch was potluck. But we tried hard not to be distracted by all the preparations. We tried to be like Mary, not Martha, and choose what is better and not forget the One Thing. This weekend we celebrated the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the gift of life for us all. That is the One Thing. Jennifer Zach lives in Ahwatukee Foothills with her family and is director of Women's Ministry at Bridgeway Community Church.
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