FIRST UMC – NEBRASKA CITY
6TH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
SUNDAY JULY 21ST 2019
TEXTS: LUKE 10: 38 – 42
THEME: MARY CHOSE A BETTER PLACE
We just concluded our vacation bible school and it was a blast. I wish to thank the organizers, the participants this includes the children, teachers, parents, guardians. Special shout to the many grandparents that brought the grandkids. It was a true joy to see these many kids and adult at our VBS. It is my hope that is the beginning of more people getting involved in the life of the church.
In our bible reading today we encounter the two sisters occupied in special space in Jesus ministry. We have to remember that they also had a brother whose name was Lazarus. Lazarus later in Jesus ministry dies and the sisters called upon Jesus for help who shows up 4 days late. Lazarus body had already been put in the tomb because their custom never allowed them to keep a dead person for a long without burying them. Bethany village the home of Martha Mary, Lazarus and Simon the leper was like 2 miles from Jerusalem. I do not know how many of us would see a group of people passing by and invite them to their house or a group coming to your door and welcoming them in without worrying of all the mess in the living room (dogs hair on the couch, clothes some of the floor maybe a toilet that is not flushing right……….) In this story we see generosity and love of God intertwined. It is an invite that the host are not seeking the guest to repay (Luke 14:12f). Our story today begins with Martha inviting Jesus to their home. We assume Jesus came with his disciples and maybe other people followed. As the host Martha, she was set to entertain the guest but she also believed that her sister Mary would step up and help. But instead of helping, Mary decides to stay with Jesus and the other guests listening to his teaching. Martha was not happy that her sister Mary was not helping. To me Martha should have called Mary out but Martha chose to report her to Jesus. She wanted Jesus to remind Mary that she needed to go and help her sister but instead Jesus commended Mary for her decision to stay at his feet and be taught. What we see is that these two sisters where serving Jesus but in different ways. Mary never realized in her business to serve her guest she was neglecting her guest. We can also be too busy doing things for Jesus and not spending time with him. Don’t let your service become self-serving. Jesus did not condemn Martha for what she was doing but wanted her to set her priority right. We can be too busy doing things for God and neglect spending time with God. In this story of Martha and Mary (sisters) we learn the following faith lessons:
- Invited to offer hospitality: This story of the two sisters can be simply given the title “Generosity and love intertwined.” It is an invitation that Jesus and his friends gets that would be equal to what we read in Luke 14:12-14 “Then Jesus said to his host, when you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends your brothers or relatives or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid…………..” In this story we see a picture of true hospitality offered to Jesus and his friends. Welcoming people in our home should be seen as a gift. We don’t have to be worry of the unclean living room, a toilet that is not working right but let the company enjoy the warmth of our heart. When true hospitality is offered it will be: One, filled with grace and desire to provide love regardless of the mess in the house. Two, we can open our homes to our neighbors, members of the church. As we open our homes, we have to remember to open our hearts too. Our challenge this morning is, how much of the hospitality do we offer visitors that come to God’s house every Sunday? Hospitality is more than food. Opening our heart for them to experience God’s love as we visit with them.
- Trap of comparing: In the story of hospitality offered by the two sisters we observe two major dynamic that we see in everyday life that we need to be aware. One, setting our priorities right. In this story Martha who did the invite takes to herself to a place where she was very busy trying to serve Jesus and his team. In her invitation maybe she had hoped that her sister would help to host by getting busy in the kitchen and doing what needed to be done to make the guests comfortable. But on Mary’s side she had set herself to learn from Jesus first, so she chose to sit at the feet of Jesus to learn. Martha sees this as less service to Jesus and she comes to report Mary to him for not helping. Though Jesus does not condemn Martha he reminds her that Mary needed to be fed spiritually before she engages in the physical feeding. The big lesson we get here is that we can be too busy working for Jesus and we have no time to hear or learn from Jesus. This is the number one problem of most of us pastors and church leaders. Two, comparing with others can be very dangerous. Martha started to compare what she was doing with what her sister was doing. Martha was busy serving Jesus and Mary seated at the feet of Jesus. In our everyday life we can fall in this trap of comparing our life with other people. We are not saying other people don’t inspire us to become better people but we are blessed differently. The point here is when you feel as though we are given the short end of the stick we complain. We forget that what we see in another may have taken a long time to come by. Is like when we see a beautiful family picture with a number of generations and we comment easy like: “You have a nice family” what we may not know is how hard a mother worked to get the two year get dressed or even stay still for the picture. The picture does not tell the whole story. Just never forget that you are unique and God treat you that way because “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Psalm 139:14). So, let us avoid getting into the trap of comparing. Jesus struggled with this among the 12 disciples who wanted to be viewed as better than the other. You and I are special children of God who occupies a special place in God’s Kingdom. Jesus never compared his disciples, he allowed each to serve with their own talents.
- We can always turn to Jesus: Martha gets frustrated and she knew who to turn to. She turned to Jesus. Jesus did not condemn her but was able to help her view the situation in a different way. Jesus listened to her without condemning her or judging her. Jesus accepted her from where she was with her issues at the time. Jesus was then able to offer his guidance to Martha by reminding her that Mary was not wasting time but doing something right. We can therefore learn the following lesson out of Jesus action or response. One, we have to set our priorities right. Mary believed that if she was fed spiritually, she would then go out and provide the people with their physical need. Two, Jesus is always our friend. No matter what we are going through in life we can always turn to Jesus because he is our friend, “what a friend we have in Jesus.” Jesus is approachable, loving and eager to help. Three,He will never leave or forsake us (Hebrew 13:5b). Jesus reminds us of the importance of relationships. Jesus reminds us that his grace is sufficient at difficult times (2 Corinthians 9:8). Jesus reminds us in him we find peace for the peace he offers is different from what the world offers. “Peace I leave with you my peace I give you; I do not give you as the world gives. Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).
We live our life making choices. As Christians, we have choose life against death, truth against false, hope against despair, love against hate, inclusion against discrimination, open hearts against closed hearts, justice against injustice, courage against fear and the list can go on.