Eighth Sunday After Trinity
Introduction and Call to Worship
Christ urges us to seek first God’s kingdom in our hearts and lives. Let us come before him in worship, praise and thanksgiving.
First Reading Genesis 18:1-10a
In the guise of three men, the Lord appears to Abraham in the desert. Abraham hurries to offers them hospitality, and they tell Abraham that his wife Sarah will have a son.
Second Reading Colossians 1:15-28
The wonderful “Colossian hymn” places Christ in his cosmic context, as the “image of the invisible God”, through whom all things have been created. Because of this all those who have been estranged from God are now reconciled, not least Paul himself who becomes a “servant of this gospel”.
Gospel Luke 10:38-end
Jesus is a guest at the home of Mary and Martha. When Martha urges Jesus to tell Mary to join her in the practical preparations for their guest, Jesus challenges her priorities.
HOMILY Mary has chosen the right path
Jesus is coming look busy, is one of those cliche often found on T-shirts and fridge magnets. But, if we stop and think about it, a much better slogan for us this morning is probably, be still and know that I am God. However, we also know that given the pressure and demands of our hectic lives, it can be really tricky to find that much needed time and space to step back, read the situation and in the words of Jesus, choose the right path.
Now, if you are anything like me, perhaps after hearing these few verses you first reaction might be ‘What a shame St Luke didn’t share with us the words that Jesus spoke to Mary. What did he said that caused Mary to stop in her tracks, sit there attentively and wait on his every word?
There again, if we think about it the Bible was never meant to be seen as some eternal instruction manual that simply spoon feed us with all the answer to the mystery and wonders of God neatly wrapped up in some nice packet. For as we all know, thankfully scripture is something far greater than that, it’s the living and active word of God which if we let it has the power to constantly feed and nurture our spiritual life.
So let’s start to try and put some of the jigsaw pieces together. Up until this point Jesus had been running round healing people and pouring out the love of his father to all who he came into contact with. Well perhaps we need to remember, that unlike those toy rabbits on the tele who were powered by duracell batteries, just like us, Jesus couldn’t keep going and going without a break, for as St Luke reminds Jesus needed to carve out special times to reflect take stock and top up his physical, emotional and spiritual batteries. Now throughout the Gospels Jesus does this by with-drawing out of the world and retreating to the desert, but on this occasion he feels it necessary to spend some quality time with his friends.
This is such a vital message for us to hold on to, for no matter what type of ministry God is calling us into he never wants or expects us to tackle it like some loan super hero – for like Jesus we too all need the loving support and encouragement of friends.
Feeding on from this, I wonder if we are misreading this situation, that St Luke is trying to described for us. For rather than automatically assuming Jesus was exploring the faith with Mary, could it be that actually he was confiding in Mary, his personal anguish concerning the horrific fate of crucifixion, that awaited him in Jerusalem. This, I’m you will agree, clearly shows us the human side of Jesus who was completely in tune with all his senses, for in Christianity we have a personal relationship with a God who understands the highs and lows of this life, rather than an abstract divine figure that’s so distance we will never be able to completely connect with him.
Another, puzzle that this passage springs up is Why an earth did Martha snap at Jesus and basically complain that her sister, Mary was not pulling her weight.
Now unfortunately, even in theological circles, people do enjoy a bit of juice scandal- as a result some academics have wondered if we are witnessing some form of love triangle where Martha was simply jealously that her sibling was getting all of the attention. Well, I think we can leave this kind of talk to the tabloid journalists.
As a more sensible theory put forward is that Mary had over stepped the mark and was behaving like a man. It’s ever so easy when we approach scripture with our modern day glasses on to forget that it those male dominated days, women and children were expected to know their place, which was firmly behind the scene getting on with the work and not getting beyond their station by being on a level playing field with the men of the house.
All of which, drives home the radical nature of God’s gracious unconditional love that we too need to tell others about, for regardless as to whether people fit in with what society deems as acceptable, God is there for them.
So to conclude how does our Gospel reading this morning sustain us as we use our 20:20 vision to think about the future direction of St Mary. Well if Jesus needed to stop and simple gather his thoughts throughout his earthly ministry- surely we too need to be on our guard that we don’t become clones of Martha and rush around doing 100 things at once. So here we all are, we have reached the point and decided to set aside a length of time and invited the Holy Spirit to spiritually top us up, but how do we avoid filling our minds with stuff and pushing forward with our own agenda. In short how do we chose the right path?
Well from the beginning of time people have engaged in two-way conversations through prayer, another universally accepted means of soaking up God’s presence across the majority of the world religions has been to spend time studying sacred text. While both of this are good and essential tools in our faith formation, I think here at St Mary’s we all appreciate what gives Christianity its distinctive personal quality is when we gather together as a family around to Altar to meet the Risen Christ in the breaking of Bread and the sharing of the wine. For the truth of the matter is the marketing gurus who printing the T-shirts, Jesus is coming, look busy have got it all wrong. The reality is Christ is already here amongst us. So by keeping our hearts and minds, firmly fixed upon the Altar, we too can be just like Mary and choose the right path.