Summary: A slightly different twist on the familiar story of Mary and Martha. Using an analogy of Kentucky Fried Chicken, how do we act when life treats us to chicken wings? Have faith in God because He is bigger than our problems.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, when was the last time you brought home a family-size bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken? I imagine more people will be buying those again since KFC announced they no longer use partially hydrogenated fats for frying. What portion do you usually choose from the bucket? We all have our favorites, and if we all reached for our favorite part, I have a suspicion that there would be some chicken wings left on the bottom of the bucket.

But parents and grandparents have developed certain sacrificial quality. We have learned to reach for the chicken wings first so that other family members would get the better portions. Do you ever do that? And sometimes we do a good job in pretending chicken wings may be our favorite portion.

Years ago, while living in the Islands, a Hawaiian family befriended me and I would visit them quite often. You know that Hawaiians are famous for their hospitality, and I was often treated to Hawaiian delicacies like chicken lau lau and such. They also offered me poi, the grayish-brown paste made from taro root. Knowing that poi was an important part of Hawaiian diet, I gratefully accepted. When they asked me if I liked poi, I politely answered, “Oh yes, it’s delicious,” because I didn’t want to offend them. Poi is not really delicious. Someone said it tastes like a fermented wallpaper paste, but I continued with the act, pretending I enjoyed the experience. About two years later I found out through a mutual friend, that they didn’t care much about poi either but kept buying it because they thought I liked it. We had a good laugh about it.

So, the next time you get stuck with eating chicken wings, remember that it could be worse – you could be eating them with poi!

To paraphrase the line from the movie Forrest Gump, “Life is like a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken; you never know what you gonna get.” Sometimes you bite into a juicy drumstick, and sometimes you get stuck with chicken wings.

A woman named Martha found that out one day. Jesus and His disciples came to visit her house and Martha, together with her sister Mary, accepted the sacred obligation of hospitality. They were supposed to prepare a meal for their guests.

You know the story. Martha was slaving in the kitchen while her sister Mary sat at the feet of Jesus listening to His teaching. If I may exploit the Kentucky Fried Chicken analogy again, Mary grabbed the drumstick and left Martha with the chicken wing. Well, this kind of sacrificial eating can only go so far. Martha reached her boiling point and dumped her frustration on Jesus: “Lord! Do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tel her then to help me!”

Well, Jesus was not offended by her abrupt speech. His love and gentleness was evident in His answer: Martha, Martha, you are anxious and distracted by many thing. Only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the good portion, that will not be taken from her.

This lesson from the 10th chapter of Luke teaches us to find the time to sit at the feet of Jesus in our busy and anxious lives. To come to church, study the Bible, spend time in prayer – to have some balance in our lives so that we would not neglect the spiritual side of it.

I have preached on this text several times already, and I think every time I have defended Martha, because by nature I belong to her camp. If you are a conscientious person, brought up to do the job right the first time, you just have to sympathize with Martha. She tried her best to fulfill her duties and ended up with the fuzzy end of the lollipop, while her sister who neglected her responsibility gets praised for choosing the good portion. Doesn’t seem quite fair, does it?

Well, I don’t think Jesus is really encouraging people to neglect their duties, or abandon their responsibilities. Can you imagine the chaos if everyone suddenly ignored what is expected of them? You couldn’t get served a dinner in a restaurant because the waitresses went to the movies instead. The cooks couldn’t prepare any meals anyway because some one failed to order the food supplies. Airlines could not operate because the pilots did not show up. The police would never come after a 911 call, houses would burn to the ground, the ambulance would never arrive because the EMTs went fishing instead. But that’s not what choosing the good portion is really about.

There is nothing wrong with fulfilling our obligations. There is nothing wrong with trying to do the best job we can. There is nothing wrong with striving for excellence.

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