Details, they are important. For example, if you are building something, perhaps a stone wall or something grander, like a house, if one fails to ensure that the foundation is straight and true, it can ruin what is being built. But is the devil in the details? The devil is in the details isn’t an expression we find in the Bible, rather it is one that grew out of the original phrase: God is in the detail. They have a slightly different meaning. The first, takes a more anxious view. It means that mistakes are usually made in the small details of a project. It implies diligence and I think, a certain amount of fear. Whereas, God is in the detail, means that attention paid to even a small thing can have a big reward. Here, attention is key. We can relax, because God is with us. One detail to notice between these two expressions is that the first, speaks of details, while the other of detail, as one thing.
Our text from Luke’s Gospel, the story of two sisters, Mary and Martha, is what got me thinking this. The two are often pitted against each other. Who is better? Are you a Martha or a Mary? I think that Jesus, in the text, validates both as disciples. His reprimand to Martha is not that she is working too hard, attending to the various details that are paramount in welcoming her guests. Rather, his rebuke is that she has lost her focus; she is distracted, working, serving, but has forgotten why. Jesus tells Martha she has need of only one thing. Him. Jesus, the son of God (Luke 1:32, 35). Mary, with her focus on Jesus, has understood this. Jesus tells Mary, she has chosen “the better part, which will not be taken away from her” (10:42).
It can be difficult sometimes, as the church, to keep our focus on Christ and our living as disciples. We can get busy. We can get distracted. We can feel fearful that we might miss something if we are not diligent enough. This text tells us that we have need of only “one thing.” We exist as a community because of what God has done in Christ, and God’s love for us. This is the one foundation that we build upon, which shall never be taken away.
I have been told that I possess a gift, an ability to see how things could be. I have felt this with this community and my call to it. The Holy Spirit at work. I can see our worshipping community growing, blossoming as the one true body of Christ, where each person is valued for who they are, no matter what their age— young or old, a place where people feel welcome and at ease to discuss life’s big questions. We are central and visible with good signage. We have a thriving Op-Shop with dedicated, hard-working volunteers. The more time I spend there, the more I realize what an incredible place it is.
God is in the detail. And as we continue to live as Christ’s disciples, in this place, may we keep our focus on what is most important, our living, loving God, the one thing, that has and will change everything.
Yours in Christ,