Sunday, July 21, 2019 – Pentecost 6

July 21, 2019  

Pentecost 6 2019

Our Savior’s La Crosse

Luke 10:38-42


She was one of my favorite people. She was an excellent writer, she had an incredible sense of humor, and she loved God. Sometimes she and I would go for walks together, telling stories and laughing.

One evening she invited a group of people to her home, including me. We had a wonderful meal, wonderful conversations flowed around the table. My only sadness was—and please note I am not saying it was a mistake or a problem, I’m saying it was a sadness—the hostess that evening, who cleaned the house and prepared the meal and set the table, did not set a place for herself at the table. She was back and forth between the dining room and the kitchen, serving the rest of us. She made each one of us feel like what we were: her special guests. And I know, it was her choice to do that. But, the truth is, as much as I appreciated all of her efforts, I missed having her at the table.

Now, imagine one of us having Jesus over for supper!

Imagine the weeks of preparation we would put ourselves through. I would be weeding the gardens in case he goes outside. I would Wash floors, wash windows, clean tables, wash tablecloths… I would dust! I would sweep the driveway and mow the yard.

Then– planning the menu! What would I serve Jesus? Would I place a loaf of bread and a fish on the table and wait for him to perform a miracle?? Would I serve a pitcher of water, knowing he could turn it into wine, saving me a few bucks? Would I fix dessert?

In our gospel reading, when Jesus arrived for dinner Martha was busy with all of the tasks one engages in when someone is coming. And, as a person with two sisters, I’m saying, doesn’t it just figure—her sister Mary wasn’t helping. At all. Mary sat herself down at Jesus’ feet and listened. Martha complained.

If I was Martha, I would have complained.

Last week I talked about “behaving ourselves into love” (Berkey-Abbott, “Reflections on the Lectionary” in the Christian Century, July 3, 2019, p. 18), suggesting gratitude be an alternative to rage or frustration.

With that in mind, I’m wondering what Martha might have been grateful for, and if gratitude might have changed the choices she made when Jesus entered her home.

If Martha welcomed Jesus with gratitude she might have been giving thanks for his decision to enter her home. And perhaps she did.

If Martha welcomed Jesus with gratitude she might have been grateful Mary was there to listen to Jesus while Martha worked.

If Martha welcomed Jesus with gratitude I don’t think she would have said “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me” (Luke 10:40b).

The author of the commentary I used as a source for my sermon last week wrote in her commentary for this week: We often get so consumed by the chores of daily life that we neglect to notice the sacred in our midst” (Berkey-Abbott, “Reflections on the Lectionary, in the Christian Century, July 3, 2019, p. 19).

Where is the love?

I read something interesting two weeks ago. R. Alan Culpepper wrote

“Neither the story of the good Samaritan nor the story of Mary and Martha  is complete without the other. Each makes its own point—the Samaritan loves his neighbor, and Mary loves her Lord—but the model for the disciple is found in the juxtaposition of the two. To the lawyer Jesus says, ‘Go and do,’ but he praises Mary for sitting and listening. The life of a disciple  requires both” (Luke 10:38-42 “Reflections” in The New Interpreter’s Bible,       vol. 9, p. 232).

We are called to do both.

There are times meant for being busy, meant for chores and doing and “acting ourselves into love” (Berkey Abbott ibid p. 18)

There are times when we need to stop, when we need to listen, when we need to make ourselves aware of the sacred in our midst.

Discerning which time is when is the challenge.

I have decided the best way to meet that challenge is to begin with gratitude.

I have been determined to meet moments with gratitude this past week. And, although I haven’t been perfect at it, this new discipline has helped me.

I am grateful for friends who have made or do make or will make me laugh. I am grateful for meals shared with others. I am grateful for my sisters, who I love. I am grateful for each of you as we begin our third year with me as your pastor. I am grateful for the call we have received to love one another and the ministry we do in God’s name. I am grateful for this day, for this morning, for this time to worship and to share a meal together.

Thanks be to God for all that has been; thanks be to God for all that is; thanks be to God for all that will be.