Posted by: Shari Glass | March 23, 2010

Pick me, Pick me!

This post should probably come later in a series, but it was yelling “pick me, pick me”, so I thought I’d give it a shot 🙂 .  When one joins the Orthodox church, you pick/get a patron saint.  When this happens as an infant you don’t have a lot of choice…you get whatever or rather whomever your parents choose for your.  And, while I don’t know this for sure, I assume that your patron saint’s name is also your name.  For instance, all of our kids, while not born in the Orthodox church have names of people who have been made saints:  Micah – a prophet, Hannah – Samuel’s mother, & Sarah – Abraham’s wife and Isaac’s mother.  So their patron saints will be Saints Micah, Hannah, and Sarah, respectively.

Those of us who are adults, get to choose our patron saint.  For me that was rather a daunting task.  We were told to check out our birthdays and see what saints were remembered on those days.  We were told to find someone we could relate to.  One article Brian read somewhere said that you don’t pick your saint, your saint picks you.  Hence I’ve been joking around (and forgive my irreverence here) while I have this picture in my head of a bunch of miniature cartoon guys standing in a crowd on a cloud and one of them is jumping up and down frantically waving his hand, shouting “pick me, pick me”.  (Don’t ask me where I got the mental picture from – I’m quite certain it came only from my own warped mind.)  And so the search for the “pick me” saint began.  Every so often Brian would mention someone he was reading about and I’d ask him if the dude was jumping up and down yelling “pick me, pick me” or I’d read about someone and tell Brian “She’s just not yelling ‘pick me’.”  I didn’t relate to the individual, or didn’t see much information about them.  Not knowing a lot about the people in the Church’s history made it rather difficult as well.

Finally I sort of had it narrowed down to Helen – Constantine’s mother, Emilia – who raised 10 Godly children, and Deborah – Isreal’s one woman judge.  But the “pick me” factor was weak.  One time while I was browsing through a saint book I saw Martha of Bethany (of Mary, Martha, & Lazarus)  and it briefly flitted through my head that she might be an option, as I’d always felt like I identified with her. (I have a tendency to be “doing” instead of “being”.)  Then I forgot about her.  But then last week I somehow came across her again and had this very strong “pick me” feeling.  After doing a little more research online, the “pick me, pick me” became even more clear 🙂  So, I am picking as my patron saint Martha of Bethany.  (And no, I won’t be changing my name to Martha!)

So why have a patron saint?  Good question.  I’ll try to post more on that this week.

But for now, here’s the description that I like the most of Martha:

“Jesus loved Martha and Mary and Lazarus.” This unique statement in John’s gospel tells us of the specialrelationship Jesus had with Martha, her sister, and her brother.

Apparently Jesus was a frequent guest at Martha’s home in Bethany, a small village two miles from Jerusalem. We read of three visits in Luke 10:38-42, John 11:1-53, and John 12:1-9.

Many of us find it easy to identify with Martha in the story Luketells. Martha welcomes Jesus and his disciples into her home and immediately goes to work to serve them. Hospitality is paramount in the Middle East and Martha believed in its importance. Imagine her frustration when her sister Maryignores the rule of hospitality and Martha’s work in order to sit and listen to Jesus. Instead of speaking to her sister, she asks Jesus to intervene. Jesus’ response is not unkind, which gives us an idea of his affection for her. He observes that Martha is worried about many things that distract her from really being present to him. He reminds her that there is only one thing that is truly important — listening to him. And that is what Mary has done. In Martha we see ourselves — worried and distracted by all we have to do in the world and forgetting to spend time with Jesus. It is, however, comforting to note that Jesus loved her just the same.

The next visit shows how well Martha learned this lesson. She is grieving the death of her brother with a house full of mourners when she hears that Jesus has just come to the area. She gets up immediately and leaves the guests, leaves her mourning, and goes to meet him.

Her conversation with Jesus shows her faith and courage. In this dialogue she states clearly without doubt that she believes in Jesus’ power, in the resurrection, and most of all that Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus tells her that he is the resurrection and the life and then goes on to raise her brother from the dead. Our final picture of Martha in Scripture is the one that sums up who she was. Jesus has returned to Bethany some time later to share a meal with his good friends. In this home were three extraordinary people. We hear how brother Lazarus caused a stir when was brought back to life. We hear how Mary causes a commotion at dinner by annointing Jesus with expensive perfume. But all we hear about Martha is the simple statement: “Martha served.” She isn’t in the spotlight, she doesn’t do showy things, she doesn’t receive spectacular miracles. She simply serves Jesus.

We know nothing more about Martha and what happened to her later. According to a totally untrustworthy legend Martha accompanied Mary to evangelize France after Pentecost.

But wouldn’t it be wonderful if the most important thing that could be said about us is “They served”?

(taken from


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