Sermon Recap 3.13.22 "Busy-ness and True Worship."
Sermon Summary for March 13, 2022
“Busy-ness and True Worship”
Our music today set the tone - it’s about both being “gathered in” - listening and learning at the feet of the teacher - and sent forth in “humble service” - doing what Jesus did. The Lord requires that we “do justly, love mercy, walk humbly with God.” As we heard last week, the overriding theme of this “Soul Reset” series comes from Matthew 11:28-30 - the promise that Jesus yoke is easy and the burden is light - and particulary Eugene Petersen’s paraphrase from that about “the unforced rhythms of grace.”
This week we heard about how often we instead embrace yokes that burden others or try to carry burdens ourselves without help. Isaiah 58 challenges us to consider how often our busyness - even our religious busy-ness tries to earn or accomplish salvation on our own rather than work with Christ. Through the prophet, God rejects this kind of busy-ness and striving.
We then considered a short example of this from the Gospel of Luke - the story of Martha and Mary in Luke 10. 4 short verses - Martha is the householder - evidence of some level of means and independence that would be unusual in the time. Jesus and his disciples arrive and are offered hospitality - a place to rest, eat and for Jesus to teach. The depictions of this usually focus on just Jesus, Mary and Martha and we too easily overlook the crowd of disciples who would also have been sitting at Jesus’ feet (and who, with our 21st Century eyes, could also be asked to help prepare and clean up a meal…). The point of this story, for me, is not that Martha is wrong to think these tasks need to be done, and obviously not that Mary is wrong for wanting to sit and listen. Rather it’s that Jesus expands the boundary of who can sit and listen - Mary is included. And that sitting and listening isn’t a permanent state - disciples are trained up so they can go and do what Jesus does.
So, back to Martha. The meal does need to be prepared. The bedding arranged. The details of hospitality handled - but Martha is “distracted” by these many things. Like the author of our “Soul Reset” book discusses - sometimes even good religious activities can become a busy-ness that distracts us from God’s presence.
I talked a bit about the similarity that struck me between the disciples cry in the midst of the storm “Lord, don’t you care that we are perishing!?” and Martha’s complaint “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do all the work?” Jesus’ response here isn’t “peace, be still” but rather an affirmation of Mary’s listening. I find in it an invitation to Martha. I meant to include this yesterday - but Imagine Jesus voice calling your name. Feel the peace inherent in that presence. The invitation. The joy. Jesus knows what it is to be human and to be busy - and Jesus models for us the rhythm of work and rest and prayer and play.
The better part is to have all that we do be grounded in Christ. The then “do” not to earn grace but in response from it. What we do then “flows” from God’s love. We act with gratitude, with humility and assurance rather than striving for control and recognition. The setting of this text between Luke 10’s “Good Samaritan” parable - where the outsider rescues and serves, while the insiders (possibly on religious grounds) avoid helping - and Luke 11’s teaching of the Lord’s Prayer is also informative. We are connected, we are to serve, we are to be rooted in prayer, that again connects us with God and others.
I closed the sermon remarking on how this week had taught me (again) about my own busy-ness. I’m tired, I’m preparing to take some overdue vacation time. I have a lot on my plate and so I’d cut a couple of corners I normally wouldn’t. I hadn’t done the comparison of different versions I normally do - and I was reminded why that is so important and helpful. In the translation that is my default - the NRSV - verse 10 just says “if you offer your food to the hungry….” but the NIV that happens to be our liturgist’s default has a much more evocative phrasing “if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry…”. My interest was sparked - studying this I find connections to Paul’s phrasing in Philippians that his is being “poured out like a drink offering.” What we have been given, who we are, is a gift. Our time, talent and treasure is ultimately Gods - and we are entrusted to “spend” it. To invest it. To share it.
I was reminded, again this week, to practice what I preach. To take time to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen. To make sure that what I’m doing isn’t distraction or busy-ness for but humble service.
To make sure that my Christian journey is, indeed, Christ-like. The reminder was a blessing to me and I hope the service and this summary is a blessing to you. I think I may have actually said things a bit better today than I did yesterday as my own heart and mind continue to grapple with these lessons and insights. Blessings on your journey.