July 17, 2007

Looking Ahead to July 22, 2007 -- 8th Sunday After Pentecost

The Scripture Readings for this Sunday are:
  • Genesis 18:1-10a
  • Psalm 15 (VU p.736)
  • Luke 10:38-42

THe Hymns for this Sunday are:

  • #374 Come and Find the Quiet Centre
  • #357 Tell Me the Stories of Jesus
  • #506 Take My Life and Let it Be
  • #422 God Be With You till We Meet Again

The Sermon title is They Also Serve...

Early thoughts: So how many of you finished the saying, adding in "who stand and wait"? And really on the face that seems to be what Jesus is saying to Martha. Actually the text goes farther, it has Jesus telling Martha in no uncertain terms that she is wrong, that Mary has made the "better choice".

But really which is the better choice? This story about two sisters trying to meet and greet Jesus the best way they know how. Martha is drawn to be the "proper" hostess, Mary is drawn to be the avid student. It is a contest between two differing styles of hospitality. It is also a story about seeking a balance between doing and being.

It seems that this is a conflict many people face in the here and now. Do we struggle to keep our houses perfectly clean to make a good impression or spend more time with family and friends? Is it more important to have a perfect meal well laid out or to have good conversation? What is the balance point?

In fact the balance point is hard to find sometimes. We need both Mary and Martha in our lives. We need them in our churches. In fact we as individual need to be both. We need to take time to "do", to be preparing for company, to have many tasks. But we also need to take time to just "be", to have the deep conversations, to sit "idly by", to stand and wait.

A few years ago I was asked to speak on this passage when the UCW Rally was held here at Riverview. And to me it seemed the perfect setting because UCW groups, when they work well, are all about being both Mary and Martha. UCWs do many things in the life of the church but they take time at every meeting for a devotional. SOme take time at many meetings for a Bible Study (or used to anyway). UCW members often have strong ideas about what it means to provide hospitality, in fact many of us could learn from them. But I have also known many UCW members who have a lot to teach about being with their guests, about how hospitality is more than the meal getting out on time.

In our story it seems that both Mary and Martha may be off-balance. MArtha is distracted by many tasks, Mary is seemingly oblivious to what needs to be done (note that the text doesn't say if Martha is preparing a multi-course meal or simply getting out come bread and cheese with some water to drink). True hospitality takes both gifts. And from ancient times we have been handed on the challenge of learning how to be truly hospitable.

May God help us learn how to be truly balanced hosts.

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