38 Now as Jesus and his disciples went on their way, Jesus entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. 40 But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But Jesus answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; 42 there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”
Please pray with me this morning, church:
God of our moving and our being,
There are seasons of our lives when
We are called to more active doing and and busy-ness.
And there are seasons of our lives when
You call us to slow down, listen, and reflect.
Help us to discern these seasons in our lives.
Give us wisdom and boldness to join you
In the movement in which you are already active in our world.
Summer’s a good time for vacation.
I’m not exactly sure why or how we’ve collectively arrived at this conclusion, but it does seem as if we’ve all just kind of decided that summer is when we’ll take the majority of our vacations. Although if I knew who to write my letter to, I’d petition for vacation season to be shifted to my personal favorite season of autumn, but I’m not sure it’d get much traction with the school administrators or even here around the church with our own program year calendars. Oh well…
Many of you have taken vacations recently. Some of you, newly retired, with all your new-found freedom, “Every season is vacation season!” Good for you.
You know I just recently took my own time away, and this was really the first time that I took some time off in this way before, with such a big chunk all at once. And honestly, I’m not sure I’ll go back to 5- and 7-day stretches ever again. Because I found that it usually takes me about 3-4 days to really unplug my brain and get into time-off mode. And so if I’m only taking a week at a time, I’ve got to start ramping up just as soon as I’ve ramped down. But this time was different. This time, I was really able to refresh and rejuvenate, and it was really good. So thank you, church, again, for the time.
But the flipside and tradeoff of this is that it’s taken me a little bit longer than usual to get back into the flow of things. I’ve been back for like, 2 weeks now, and I’m really only just now starting to get my feet back under me.
Good and needful refreshment……little bit longer to ramp back up…
In so many ways my body was…(is…?)…still inhabiting the restful rejuvenation of Mary, and my brain was…(is…?)…racing trying to pull and force my body to get back to the doing and the work of Martha.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve kind of methodically been making our way through chapters 9 and 10 of Luke. Next week, we’ll just briefly touch chapter 11 and then begin making our way through chapter 12 the week after. But what’s important to remember and recognize is, recall a few weeks ago when Jesus said “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of humanity has no place to lay his head.” And remember just before that how the reading began “When the time drew near for Jesus to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.” Jesus is on a collision course with the cross. Nothing can deter or detract from this mission. Not an unwelcoming Samaritan village, not burying dead family members or long goodbyes, not people and towns who will not receive the message of the disciples, not upstanding religious folk who fail to see their neighbor in need right in front of their face…not even the generous hospitality of one of Jesus’ closest companions, Martha, can be allowed to push Jesus off-course. In corporate jargon, they call this scope-creep or mission-creep.
Nothing can be allowed to deter or detract from the mission. Jesus is on his way, and the cross and the crucifixion is the only thing that matters.
Many things might be good and necessary in this moment, only one thing is needful, only one thing is essential.
The essential thing is Jesus’ journey to the cross.
The essential thing is for Jesus to teach, and for the disciples to learn and soak up as much of this Jesus knowledge as they can while Jesus is on this mission.
“You are worried and distracted by many things.” Well, geez Jesus…rude…just tag me in your social media post next time… Church, these are Jesus’ words to Martha, but how many of us are worried and distracted by many things? In a world of the constant and endless news cycle, over the past 2 years when many of us occupied our quarantine time with doomscrolling, we are inundated with the next breaking story, the next mass hysteria, the next tragic injustice, the latest loss of civil liberties, the latest officer-involved shooting, the most recent war halfway around the world…to say nothing of the very real cares and concerns of your own household, your partner, your spouse, your kids and grandkids…there is no shortage of things that demand our attention.
Jesus says, “Just for a moment…sit…and be still…and listen.”
Set down your phone. Turn off the notifications. Shut your computer. Put your day planner away.
Just sit. And be. And listen. And soak in. And learn.
When we are attentive to what Jesus is saying, we just might hear the most important words Jesus will ever tell us, which is that you, dear child, are loved beyond measure. You are precious, you are worthy, you are valuable, you are valued, you are extraordinary, and you are enough.
And you are called to share that beautiful and wonderful message with a world that is desperate to hear just a bit of good news. You are called to share that beautiful and wonderful word of love with your neighbor who is certainly longing deep within their heart of hearts to hear just that about themselves.
Which isn’t to say there isn’t work to be done, or that there won’t be work to be done. Lord, we know that’s true. But it does mean that we shouldn’t endeavor to take on the work without first pausing and listening and reflecting on just what God and Jesus and the Spirit might be calling us to.
I’m so excited for this current season at New Hope. As we continue to make our way out of the worst parts of this pandemic, I feel like we really have an opportunity to lay everything out on the table, listen intently for God and the Spirit, discern together, and to respond faithfully to what we’re hearing. Our Capital Campaign has been on a tear recently. The interior of our Community Center is effectively finished. We’ve got a new gym floor, updated rooms and classrooms, new doors, new paint…and starting this week, we’ll be hosting the Family Promise families in there for dinner. I really encourage you to stop by and spend some time with these extraordinary families this week if you can. Let them know this church prays for them and is deeply invested in their success in the Family Promise program to move them from housing insecurity to more stable footing.
Just today we started a series of conversations with new members and visitors and long-time members, and we’ll be welcoming new members in a couple of months, which is something we haven’t really done since the start of the pandemic.
In just a short couple of months we’ll start a new program year and everything that comes along with that. New Faith Formation classes, getting back into Christian education and Sunday School, small groups and bible studies kicking back up… We’ve got new bible studies starting, a new book study especially for parents coming up in August, some fellowship opportunities, ways for you to reconnect with this community of faith and with one another…which is something I think we’re all recognizing is super-important in our lives right now. Also coming up soon, I’m so so so excited that we’re going to be starting an intentional conversation about Welcoming, Hospitality, and Inclusion.
And y’all…can I just say…have you seen the Nursery yet?
Holy cow…there’s so much room for activities! Seriously, if you haven’t already, please go check it out. And Pastor Janelle… Y’all…Pastor Janelle… Not only did she cover for me while I was away…not only did she take on the sprucing up of the Prayer Garden and getting new benches and new flowers and plants out there…not only is she doing all the regular ministry things as our Pastor of Faith Formation…she’s also getting our Faith Formation classrooms set up in the Community Center, as well as the supply closet (which is a monstrous undertaking)…but she’s also taking the lead on this Nursery project and trying to get our brand new Nursery outfitted with all the things it needs to be a wonderful ministry here. Will you just join me in thanking her for her incredible dedication and so much hard work…? Y’all…seriously…
And…we are trying to get some more things for our new Nursery, so check out our Amazon wish list in our Anchor newsletter, and if you can’t get one of the big ticket items, will you make an extra monetary gift with your offering and just designate it to the Nursery project and we’ll make sure it gets to where it needs to go. We could really really use your help.
Church, I’m so excited for this next season of life and ministry here at New Hope. You are not going to want to miss what’s coming up.
It feels like a big season of doing, but I think there’s just as much intentionality and thoughtful reflection infused throughout. We are listening in this moment. And praying. And having conversation.
Many things might be necessary in this moment—many things feel and are important—and…the first needful and essential thing is to first listen to Jesus. To pray, to invite the Holy Spirit, and then to listen, and to pay attention.
It’s an exciting season, church.
I invite you to rest and renew and listen and pray with us.
And I invite you join in the doing and the work where your gifts can be best used.
It takes all of us…Marthas and Marys alike.
Thank God it takes all of us.