Family Liturgies

Rhythms of Work and Rest

4844764408Scripture: Luke 10:38-42


God, you have given us many good things to do.
We do school work and house work and yard work.
We play instruments; we play sports; we play with our toys.
We go to school and to the store and to church.
It is good for us to work and play and do good things in our world.
It is also good for us to stop and rest and listen.
Help us choose what is best to do—and not do—today.


Martha is working hard. She wants everything to be perfect for Jesus. She’s stirring the soup with one hand and scrubbing the countertops with the other. Unfortunately, she only has two hands—she can’t get everything done.

And then she sees her little sister Mary. Just sitting there. Sitting there. Doing nothing.

“Good grief, Jesus,” says Martha. “Don’t you see how busy I am? And Martha is just sitting there. Tell her to help me!”

Jesus knows there is a lot to do. I think he appreciates how hard Martha is working to make him comfortable in her home. But Jesus also knows that it is good to rest and to listen.

This rhythm of work and rest is essential to a healthy family life. It is easy to become overwhelmed with activities.

Good activities: music, swimming, dance, gymnastics, soccer, baseball, theater, art class, museum trips, friend gatherings, church events.

Necessary activities: doctor visits, dentist appointments, grocery shopping, house cleaning, chores.

I like that Jesus says that “Mary has chosen the better part.” Because it is easy for us to play the martyr and act like we don’t have a choice about how busy we are.

I have a crazy busy week, because we close on our new house on Thursday. (!) And in the midst of packing I have to write this post, plan a worship service, and take my children to various activities. . . . But I chose to buy a new house. I chose to participate in this great blog project. I chose to enroll my daughters in viola lessons and gymnastics class. All of these activities are privileges, not burdens. I acknowledge my choices and, if needed, adjust my future choices.

There are times when we are called to be Martha—to work hard, to enter the busyness. And there are times to be Mary—to sit at Jesus’ feet, to rest, to listen.

We can listen through prayer, through family devotions, through worship, through Bible reading. And our listening will help us, like Mary, choose the better part.



  • How have you listened to God in the past week? What will you do this week to listen to God?
  • Talk about a time that you were too busy. How did you feel?
  • Are you, in general, too busy right now? If so, what can you quit?
  • If you were going to tattle to Jesus on a sibling (or friend or child or parent), what would you say? What do you think Jesus would say?


Spiritual Practice:

Choose one day this week to skip your chores (except any necessary for the survival of human and/or animal family members) and instead spend time reading/telling each other your favorite Bible stories.

–By Joanna Harader


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