Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” Luke 10:38-41
This extended summer has been a honey bee’s dream. The blooms seemed everlasting and the lingering warmth kept them foraging long into October. But the cold is finally seeping in, to the nights at least and it’s time for beekeepers to tuck in their hives for winter. A couple weeks ago, Roger (my own resident apiarist) removed the last of the supers he’d been adding to the hives throughout the summer and extracted the honey. The boxes he leaves have enough honey to sustain the hive through the winter. The bees cluster there, protecting themselves and their queen from the cold.
A friend of ours had an unusual thing happen to his hive this year. His hive seemed to be thriving. Through the bright sunny days of summer that stretched long into the fall, the hives “buzzed” with activity. There was constant traffic at the hive’s entrance- bees in and out on foraging expeditions. Only, when he entered the hive to extract honey, he found none. No excess. No reserve. No honey at all. And oddly he found no honey bees. Instead the hive was full of wasps, yellow jackets and bubble bees. The bees had either been killed off or had swarmed unnoticed from the hive. They were no longer in residence, leaving the hive open to raiders who had scavenged all of the honey. Our friend’s surprise was not that the hive had been vacated. It happens. But instead that he hadn’t noticed. That he had been deceived by the busyness around the hive to believe the hive was healthy.
As honey bees (and so much of the natural world) slumber through the winter, it seems our churches accelerate our activity. Thanksgiving, Advent, and Christmas- it’s one of the busiest times of year. It is too easy to fall into the deception that the busier our churches appear, the healthier they are. After all, folks are coming and going. We equate the buzzing about with thriving. But too often, all the frenzy is really just raiding our spiritual reserves- reserves we need to make it through the dark, cold winter.
Maybe we can take a lesson from the bees. The colder it gets, the tighter they huddle together around the queen, keeping her warm. The bees generate heat by feeding from the honey reserves and shivering. When the bees on the outside of the cluster are at risk of getting too cold, they gradually move inward to the warmer center. We love to be churches buzzing with activity and excitement. How wonderful when our efforts build up the Kingdom; when the product of our labors is a rich harvest for our Keeper. But how dreadful it would be if He discovered we’d allowed busyness to scavenge our spiritual reserves. As we buzz about this season, let’s try to remember (and remind each other) that it is the King who should always be at our core of all we do.
But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:42
Buzz, buzz, buzzzzzzzzzz,