NOTE: We had two differnt worship opportunities on Sunday. We baptized two amazing children at the 8am service and held an instructed Eucharist at 10am. The Rev.'d Deacon Lisa Kirby offered two versions of her sermon. Only the 8am one was recorded. However, the text for both are found here.
We have a Baptism today!!! How wonderful.
We also have the familiar Gospel lesson about Mary and Martha. Martha making busy in the kitchen while Mary sits at the feet of Jesus and his companions listening to her Lord’s words.
In southern terms, a friend and honored guest arrives, and Mary sits and visits while Martha goes out into the kitchen to fix up some lemonade and sweet tea, fried chicken and collards and we must have cookies or cake. She’s banging those pots and pans, making sure she has enough fat back, and yet the noise does not cause Mary to stop what she’s doing and come help her sister. So, she complains to her guest, who has emphasized that he came to serve, not to be served and says “for crying out loud, make Mary get out here and help me. And Jesus responds like a line out of the Brady Bunch, “Martha, Martha, Martha, you are distracted by many things. Then, he says, Mary has made the better choice.
My stars, was that a rebuke? I don’t think so. I think it was an invitation.
Note that the lesson never says that Mary was at home when Jesus arrived. It says
“Martha welcomed them”. Is it possible that Mary arrived with Jesus, meaning that she had been out on the road with Jesus preaching and teaching? So, she arrives home and sits with Jesus and the others continuing the conversation they had been having on the road. Now this is shocking simply because traditionally women were not supposed to be out traveling on the road preaching and proclaiming.
Instead of chastising Martha, perhaps Jesus was saying. “Martha, dear Martha, your sister Mary has been with me as a disciple, don’t you want to join us?” Why don’t you join us in this important work?
He is in no way denigrating what Martha does, and where on earth would we be without the Martha’s of the world. There are people in this world who are skilled and generous at the cleaning, organizing, cooking parts of life. I’m not one of them and my office should have a sign saying “Martha does NOT live here”
Jesus could be saying, Martha, bring your skills and come and be my companion on the journey, help me spread the word or God’s love, Grace and healing power. What an honor it is to be called to do that work.
I think that Baptism is an invitation into the Gospel life, an invitation to be part of the Jesus Movement. It is a proclamation made today on behalf of this child who is to receive the sacrament of new birth. And it is an affirmation of our role in a Christ centered life.
I talked a few weeks ago about how our creeds, our stated beliefs should influence our daily life. The Baptism service is a glowing example of that philosophy. We say the Apostle’s Creed and then we affirm our Baptismal Covenant. I see it as “because I believe this, I will do that”. And our Baptismal Covenant is both specific and compelling, and sometimes difficult to adhere to.
I believe Bonhoeffer was asked to do something one time he replied, “I can’t do that, it would be contrary to my Baptismal Covenant”. How many of us apply that test to our daily actions? That’s mind blowing. How many of us use this approach to work, life, public service and evangelism?
To the parents, family and godparents. Can you look at the promises you make for this child, to lead him into a Christ centered life by your faith and witness and remember them. Perhaps on his Baptismal Anniversary you might look back as those promises and ask yourself, am I doing that?
I never even met 2 of my Godparents and the third never darkened the doorsteps of a church except for weddings and funerals and when she said God it was in the midst of swearing. I trust you will do better.
Can we all, listen carefully to the words of our Baptismal Covenant and ask ourselves: Am I living that? Sometimes I do, sometimes I fall short, but it’s always there to remind me…
I think that The Sacrament of Baptism is one of the most powerful services of the church. We open our arms and our hearts to a new child of God, we anoint him with oil, we make promises on his behalf, and we are reminded that God invites us, just Jesus invited Martha, to be part of a Gospel life, each and every day.
Maybe when we light a candle at home, we might remember this Pascal Candle and what it represents and remember that this child and millions of other children have been welcomed into the household of God with a candle just like the one we will give this child.
May we see that light, and may we be that light, and may we spread the light, to these wonderful children and to the whole world.
It’s a story we’ve heard before—Jesus comes to visit the home of Mary and Martha. Mary sits at Jesus feet, along with the others who came with him, while Martha scurries around fixin’ a spread. She’s running around banging the pots and pans and impatiently asks Jesus to tell Mary to come help her.
Instead of suggesting that Mary help, he turns to Martha and in a voice, reminiscent of the Brady Bunch says “Martha, Martha, Martha. You are distracted by many things.” Your sister Mary has made a better choice.
Let’s look at this scene a little differently. It never says that Mary was home when Jesus arrived. It says that Martha came to greet them. I think it’s possible that Mary had been traveling with Jesus and the others, teaching and preaching. That’s mind blowing to begin with, as traditionally women just didn’t do that.
Perhaps, what Jesus is saying to her, is Martha, your sister has become a disciple and a teacher. Why don’t YOU join us and do the same; you can be a disciple too. It could be, not a rebuke, but an invitation to discipleship. It’s an invitation to us all, to join with countless throngs through the ages who have dedicated their lives to spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
We need the Martha’s of the world, those who can organize and get things put together, whose houses are always tidy, meals are on time. I’m not one of those people—
This is also a story about distraction. Martha is “distracted by many things”. I need to look at my life and ask, what am I staying busy doing so that I don’t have to do other things? It can be as simple as staying busy outdoors, so I don’t have to come in and deal with things that need to be done in my house.
Do I stay busy doing things so that I don’t have to metaphorically, enter my Father’s House (and I’m not talking about a building.)? I’m talking about entering the Gospel life.
We can get so busy in here that we may not get out there! Out there is where church happens. Don’t get me wrong, what happens in here is important, but it’s important because of what it equips us to do out there.
Our benediction and the dismissal tell us to GO.
What does the dismissal mean by “loving and serving the Lord”? Mary and Martha had very different views of what that means, but then it changed. Jesus invited Martha to go and do what Mary is doing----loving and serving the Lord, not with food, but with real tangible ministry. What an honor and a privilege it is to be so called.
Being distracted by many things also means the things we worry and fret about, and to which we give mental and emotional energy in our world; and the things we think, like Martha, we HAVE to do.
Someone wrote to me on an ordination card “May you be Mary in a Martha world”. Might we not need both?
Jesus didn’t tell Martha she “had to” come and follow Mary’s path, but I hope she chose to be a little bit Mary.
We make choices every day; what we will we choose to do? What are our priorities as followers of Jesus?
Let’s look at Jesus invitation to Martha as an invitation to us all. An invitation to Gospel life, to Eucharist. As we come forward to Communion perhaps we might think of ourselves as responding to the invitation to Martha. To leave our distractions behind and focus on life in the Risen Christ.
Martha, don’t be distracted, come and join us, bring your skills, we need you. What did she choose? What we will choose?