The Venerable Peter Scott's Sermons

THE TWENTY-THIRD SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

November 17, 2019

 

1 PETER 2:4-9 

Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in scripture: “See, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” To you then who believe, he is precious; but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the very head of the corner,” and “A stone that makes them stumble, and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. 

 

 

We are the Church

Today we celebrate Stewardship Sunday when we give thanks for the time, talent and treasure given over the past year to St. Mark’s. Stewardship is a combination of time, treasure and talent, but as so often happens it can come down to just treasure being talked about. We also are reminded in scripture of the ministry that we all share as God’s children.  

Recently, it was suggested by the diocese that we have a donate button on our website.  It’s early days and I am still trying to figure out how to navigate, edit and add to our new website.  I tired and I tried to put a DONATE button on the website, but could not figure it out.  After many, many attempts over the course of half an hour, I gave up.  I logged out of the editing software and decided to go to our website to see what else might need some work.  To my surprise, low and behold, the DONATE button was there ….. 42 times…. 7 rows of DONATE, DONATE, DONATE…  My point here is that, charities and the church in general, might feel that way to us; always talking about, or needing or asking for money.  At the end of it all, I was able to remove those 42 buttons quite easily and decided not to add one. 

It is rarely just treasure that keeps our ministry going, but a combination of a number time, treasure and talent.  At St. Mark’s this past year, there have been a number of ministries that have been a combination of time, talent and treasure: another Christmas Day lunch, those who now assist on weekdays those who come to our Food Cupboard, The Rev’d Mary Ranger Library, a new rehearsal piano in thanksgiving for Pam Claridge, our parking lot.  This idea of a combination of time, treasure and talent also applies for our overall ministry together.  

There is a phrase, I am the priest, you are the ministers. In the second lesson from the 2nd letter of Peter we hear, But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. As the priest, my calling includes preparing God’s people for proclamation.  The ministries of counseling, discipleship and teaching, of which I do a lot of, in scripture they are assigned to all God’s people.  We often refer to the church building as the house of God, but in fact we hear in Hebrews 3: 6, Christ, however, was faithful over God’s house as a son, and we are his house if we hold firm the confidence and the pride that belong to hope. When we hear and understand that, we will stop talking about the church as something separate from ourselves, that place on First Avenue, and we become the place where ministry takes place. It is in us that the ministry of St Mark’s takes place and we take that ministry whenever and wherever we go in our lives.  It is who we are, St. Mark’s.  We are his house if we hold firm the confidence and pride that belong to hope of Christ.  

And for that, we, St. Mark’s, is grateful.  Gratitude is defined as:  an emotion expressing appreciation for what one has—as opposed to, for example, a consumer-driven emphasis on what one wants. Today, the Gratitude slips from the Stewardship Dinner will be placed on the Altar and included in the Prayers.   I would like to conclude with the grace that I use at the Stewardship Dinner which speaks of gratitude:

 

For food in a world where many walk in hunger

For faith in a world where many walk in fear

For friends in a world where many walk alone

We give you thanks, O Lord. Amen. 

 

 

 

Remembrance Sunday – November 10, 2019

 

John 16:23-33 

On that day you will ask nothing of me. Very truly, I tell you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete. I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures, but will tell you plainly of the Father. On that day you will ask in my name. I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf, for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world again. I am leaving the world and am going to the Father.” His disciples said, “yes, now you are speaking plainly, not in any figure of speech! Now we know that you know all things, and do not need to have anyone question you; by this we believe that you came from God.” Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each one to his home, and you will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!” 

 

Lest we forget…

 

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, Canadians are asked to pause in memory of the thousands of men and women who sacrificed their lives in military service. Lest we forget.  At public gatherings in Ottawa and across the country, Canadians pay tribute with a minute of silence to the country’s fallen soldiers from the First World War, the Second World War, the Korean War, the Afghanistan conflict and ongoing peacekeeping missions. Lest we forget. We remember those who made the supreme sacrifice. Lest we forget. We remember and pray that it will not happen again – Lest we forget.

In today’s passage from John’s Gospel there are words that stand out for me: peace, love and understanding. There was a song from the 70’s written by Elvis Costello called, “What’s so funny ‘bout peace, love and understanding”. The song is pointing to the concept that the ideal of peace, love and understanding was a moto of the 60’s, perhaps seem “funny” or, beyond our grasp. One of the things I live to do when travelling is to look at the license plates of those from different provinces and states and their motoes.  Ontario’s motto on our license plates is “Keep it Beautiful” (for now), Quebec – Je me Souvien, Friendly Manitoba – and New York –  The Empire State The one that always catches my eye is New Hampshire’s motto: “Live Free or Die”. I’m not quite sure that that would be Christ’s motto, but Jesus does state at the end of today’s passage, But take courage. What did Jesus mean by that? So let’s look at that verse, phrase by phrase. 

I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!’ In me you may have peace; we share in Jesus’ victory over the world. It is a spiritual victory over evil; as Christians, evil does not have power over us. And yet there is still war; the history of our parish church is tied in to war. The Parish was founded in1837 by Seneca and Jesse Ketchum.  That was the year of the Rebellions of Upper and Lower Canada, which were all about political reform and freedom. The Boar War coincided with the last year of our church’s longest serving Priest, The Rev’d Canon Henderson who served from 1861-1901. I met a granddaughter of Rev’d Harrison, who served St. Mark’s during WW1. And then we move into the memories of some who knew, who remember parishioners and those from the town of Orangeville gave their lives in WW1, WW2 and Korea and Afghanistan, where Corporal Matthew McCully died.

The next phrase is, In the world you face persecution: Jesus said that we receive peace in him, but tribulation in the world.  The Greek word translated “world” (kosmos) refers to the worldly rebellion against God – we should not look to the world for peace. A former president of the Norwegian Academy of Sciences and historians from England, Egypt, Germany, and India have come up with some startling information: Since 3600 B.C. the world has known only 292 years of peace!  During this period there have been 14,351 wars, large and small, in which 3.64 billion people have been killed.  The value of the property destroyed would pay for a golden belt around the world 97.2 miles wide and 33 feet thick.  Since 650 B.C. there have also been 1656 arms races, only 16 of which have not ended in war.  The remainder ended in the economic collapse of the countries involved.

But take courage; I have conquered the world!’: The Greek word translated “have conquered” (nikaō) means “overcome, defeat, conquer.” As an aside, you may have a pair of shoes that got its name from the word, nikao. The verb is in the perfect tense, i.e., a past, completed action with continuing results. And what are those results:  on a personal level for all of us forgiveness now, as Christ overcame sin and death, and on a worldly level the kingdom of God is now, but also yet to come – it is not completed. It happened a long time ago, but it’s effects are still felt, experienced today, Lest we forget.

Lest we forget is a phrase often used by many when talking about Remembrance Day. The phrase “Let we forget” is from a poem by Rudyard Kipling, “Recessional” which he wrote on the occasion of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897. The poem expresses pride in the British Empire, but also an underlying sadness that the Empire might go the way of all previous empires.  Kipling recognizes that boasting –  a fault of which he was often accused – was inappropriate and vain in light of God‘s dominion over the world.The first stanza states just that:  God of our fathers, known of old–
Lord of our far-flung battle line–
Beneath whose awful hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine–
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget–lest we forget!

We remember those who made the supreme sacrifice. Lest we forget. We remember and pray that it will not happen again – Lest we forget. We remember those on this plaque which was found a few weeks ago which states the names of those who were in the Sunday School and later served and gave their lives for our freedom– Let we forget.  I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!’ Lest we forget. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ALL SAINTS SUNDAY

October 27, 2019

 

 

Luke 6:20-31

20Then he looked up at his disciples and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21“Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. 22“Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. 23Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets. 24“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. 25“Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. “Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep. 26“Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets. 27“But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.29If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. 30Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. 31Do to others as you would have them do to you.

 

AIM HIGHER & DO IT FOR THEM

I think that I have told this story to some of you before, but I think it is worth telling again.  Many years ago our family was driving through Hamilton and we passed a street named Rebecca Street and this prompted our daughter to ask where her name came from.She knew that the name Rebecca was from the bible, but wanted to know more.  We told that her that Rebekah was the wife of Isaac who was Abraham’s son and the mother of Jacob and Esau; all in all, a very important person.  Our son Ethan, of course, then asked, “Who was Ethan?”  I told him that the great King Solomon was described as being wiser than Ethan which, I said, was a distinction in its own right. (1Ki 4:31).  The car was uncharacteristically quiet for a few moments and then Ethan asked, “Why didn’t you call me Solomon?”  

Ethan had the right response; he was aiming higher.November 1, this coming Friday, is All Saints’ Day, a day on the same level of Christmas and Easter when we remember the Saints throughout the ages who have inspired us to aim higher.  All Saints Day was named Hallowmas; “hallows” meaning “saints” and “mas” meaning “Mass”.    Halloween, the day preceding All Saint’s Day, is so named because it is “The Eve of All Hallows”, which contracts to Hallowe’en. We may think on this day that what the saints did is beyond us or that we really aren’t called to be more than we already are.But we are all called to aim higher and be Saints.

The word “saint” is derived from a Greek whose basic meaning is “to set apart, ” “sanctify, ” or “make holy.” The apostle, Paul, often in his addressed his letters “to the saints…”, meaning all Christians. And, what is a Saint?The last verse sums up what a Saint is: Do to others as you would have them do to you. The Message, a modern translation by Eugene Pederson translate that his way, “Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them!”   That sums up the life of a saint, “do it for them”. 

We often think of the disciples as Saints, who aimed higher and were a ‘do it for them’ group. The following fictional letter is written as if Jesus would have hired a Consulting firm to help him choose his disciples.  The letter which you may also have heard before would read as follows:

Dear Jesus: 

Thank you for submitting the resumes of the twelve men you have picked for managerial positions in your new organization. All of them have now taken our battery of tests and we also arranged personal interviews for each of them. As part of our service, we make some general comments for your guidance.

It is the staff opinion that most of your nominees are lacking in background, education and vocational aptitude for the type of enterprise you are undertaking. They do not have the team concept. Simon Peter is emotionally unstable and given to fits of temper. Andrew has absolutely no qualities of leadership. The two brothers, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, place personal interest above company loyalty. Thomas demonstrates a questioning attitude that would tend to undermine morale. We feel that it is our duty to tell you that Matthew had been blacklisted by the Greater Jerusalem Better Business Bureau; James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus definitely have radical leanings. 

One of the candidates, however, shows great potential. He is a man of ability and resourcefulness, meets people well, has a keen business mind, and has contacts in high places.. We recommend Judas Iscariot as your controller and right-hand man. We wish you every success in your new venture. Sincerely, Jordan Management Consultants. 

It would have been a disaster if Jesus would have asked for our counsel in order to choose his disciples, the earliest Saints of the church. A Saint is someone who “aims higher” and a “do it for them” person.  The Rev’d Mary Ranger was one of the saints who aimed higher and was a do it them person.  She broke the mold of what it means to be a Christian, as she didn’t necessarily follow the rules and lived a principled live of a saint, not seeking spotlight or expecting recognition.  There is a common misconception by those who are not religious who make the assumption that religion means going to church on Sunday morning and praying. They think that we hold that back on our faith in the rest of your life.  I think that sometimes we believe that because we don’t live out our faith, we want to mix in, we hold back, we don’t act or speak differently than those with no faith. The Saints, I believe, see religious practice in all parts of our lives including social services, interaction with the community and their involvement in their everyday life with family and friends. The Saints also knew it is Jesus who gives us the message, the Holy Spirit the strength to do it and God gets the gloryAmen to that!

 

THANKSGIVING SUNDAY

October 13, 2019

 

Luke 17:11-19

11On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. 12As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, 13they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean.15Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. 16He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. 17Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? 18Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”

 

Thanksgiving Contrasts

Today we hear in this well-known passage from Luke’s Gospel of the healing of ten lepers about healing and giving thanks. Jesus is the on the way to Jerusalem, he enters a village, 10 lepers approach him, keeping their distance, and ask Jesus to have mercy on them.  He tells them to go and show themselves to the priests and as they went they were made clean.  One of them, a Samaritan, when he saw that he was healed, turned back praised God, prostrated himself at Jesus feet and thanked him. Jesus asks where are the other nine, why didn’t they give praise to God and he says to the man get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.  We heard this passage before and we now have heard twice today. The message from this passage is simple on this Thanksgiving Sunday; it’s about giving thanks to God and we should do the same. End of sermon. Amen…Not so fast! Jesus, God’s word, does not let us off so easily.  The passage is one of contrasts; some stand out and others are more subtle.  The contrasts are: the Samaritans and Jews; well and clean and, thanks and praise.

The contrast between Samaritans and Jews.  The Samaritans were a racially mixed society with Jewish and pagan ancestry. Although they worshiped Yahweh as did the Jews, their religion was not mainstream Judaism.  They accepted only the first five books of the Bible as canonical and so because of their imperfect adherence to Judaism and their partly pagan ancestry, the Samaritans were despised by ordinary Jews.Jews travelling near Samaria would bypass the region in order not to contaminated and Samaritans and Samaritans did not like the Jews.The Samaritan therefor could not and would not have anything to do with the priest and the priest would have nothing to do with him if he had gone to the priest.  The Samaritan would have then just returned to his community, but he didn’t. He did something exceptional in returning to Jesus, a Jew, who he should not come into contact with.  We can get wrapped up in why he returned, why Jesus would have sent him to see the priest, which he shouldn’t have, knowing that he was a Samaritan, but the point is that he returned, despite all the rules, the history, the laws, he returned and was made well.  The contrast between clean and well. There is a difference between clean and well.  We read in vs. 14, “they were made clean,” while in vs. 19, “your faith has made you well.” Invs. 14the ten are passive recipients, something is done to them by someone else, they are made clean by Jesus. In vs. 19, the Samaritan is an active participant, it is his faith that has made him well. The other nine as we remember went to the priests, who would through a series of rituals make sure that they were cured of their leprosy, only after which having passed that they were clean could they return to society. The phrase “made you well” or “made you whole” as is found in some translations is from the Greek sozo, the word commonly translated “to save”.His faith made him return to the feet of Jesus in thanks, and that personal contact and submission signified a healing that is more than skin deep.That is why he praises God for he knows how God really is, in Jesus. 

The contrast between thanks and praise.  The Samaritan returns praises God and thanks Jesus. Praise and thanks are similar but not the same.Praise is to compliment and admire God for all his virtues and for what he is. Thanksgiving is to express thanks and gratitude for God for the things that he has done for you and provided you.Praise is more than words; it could be done in the form of singing that is the most popular way of praising the God.Thanksgiving is rooted in the things we have been given by God.Praise comes from insight of who the God really is.The question we might ask ourselves is do we only thank God, or do we praise God for knowing who God is and what he can do. 

The temptation here is to say that there are ungrateful people today who need to hear this story and be thankful – true enough. The other challenge is that we put ourselves in the shoes of the one who returned and feel that we amongst the righteous because well, we’re here.  This may lead to yet another contrast: us and them. Jesus saves sinners and it would seem from this passage that Jesus doesn’t single out people on the basis of their religion or lack of it.The Samaritan is made whole, we are made whole by Jesus and this Sunday we come together to give thanks and to praise God for being God.   Happy Thanksgiving. Amen.

 

The Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost  –  September 22, 2019
Luke 16:1-20

Then Jesus said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering his property. 2So he summoned him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Give me an accounting of your management, because you cannot be my manager any longer.’ 3Then the manager said to himself, ‘What will I do, now that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. 4I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.’ 5So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6He answered, ‘A hundred jugs of olive oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.’ 7Then he asked another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He replied, ‘A hundred containers of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill and make it eighty.’8And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. 9And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes. 10“Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. 11If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own? 13No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

 

The Toughest Parable Ever…

Today’s reading follows the parables of the Lost Sheep, Lost Coin and Prodigal Son.  Although the meanings of these parables are somewhat hard to interpret and challenging, the Parable of the Dishonest Manager is to put it in a word, baffling. I did some research and found that one preacher has preached on this passage seven different ways and came up with the statement, that we are saved by God’s grace, not by fully understanding Jesus’ meaning in this particular parable.True enough, but, there must be a point, there must be a reason Jesus told this parable, there must be… meaning.

One of two baffling points I want to look at in the parable is why the rich man praises the manager.  The rich man praises the steward because the manager was shrewd enough to do what he could to plan for his future well-being.  He was creative to look out for himself and his future needs. We never find out if in fact the manager did lose his job, but at least on the face of it, he is praised for looking out for himself in a very clever way just as, we would suppose, the rich man had.   Jesus wants us to be smart, or shrewd in the same way for what is right. It would seem that there are some very smart, clever, shrewd people out there who look out for themselves in very creative ways.  As, children of the light, God’s people, we could learn a few things from them for the good.

The other baffling statement as is, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes. God’s people are to use what God has given us, “dishonest wealth”, or  “worldly wealth” as some translations put it, to help those in need who will in the future will show their gratitude when they welcome us into ‘eternal dwellings’, heaven.Or, as the biblical scholar Dr. William Barclay says in his commentary, The Rabbis had a saying, “The rich help the poor in this world, but the poor help the rich in the world to come.”Jesus goes on to say in so many words, if you’re honest in small things, you be honest in big things.The life of a Christian disciple is one of faithful attention to the frequent and familiar tasks of each day, however small and insignificant they may seem.  We might think ourselves worthy of greater things, but life, for most of us, consists of what we might think of as small deeds.   Most of us will not this week christen a ship, write a book, end a war, dine with the queen, convert a nation, or be burned at the stake.  More likely the week will present no more than chance of giving to the food cupboard, write a note to a friend who lost a loved one, visit a nursing home, teach a Sunday school class, take part in Adopt-A-Hwy, tell a child a story, go to choir practice, or look after a neighbour’s dog.

Here is a story that I think illustrates that point.  In one of his talks in the Alpha series, Nicky Gumbel tells this story about John Wimber, the founding pastor of the Anaheim Vineyard Christian Fellowship and the Worldwide Vineyard Movement.  John Wimber was once approached by a member of his congregation who had met somebody in great need.  After the Sunday service this man told John Wimber of his frustration in trying to get help.“‘This man needed a place to stay, food, and support while he gets on his feet and looks for a job,’ he said. ‘I am really frustrated. I tried telephoning the church office, but I didn’t get an answer. I finally ended up having to let him stay with me for the week!  It was much as I live alone and have lots of room and it didn’t really add up to much, so, don’t you think the church should take care of people like this?’ “John Wimber thought for a moment and said, ‘It looks like the church did.’”

A baffling parable which on the face of it, without any explanation, would leave us with the thinking that a dishonest manager is praised and we are to make friends with our worldly wealth. It is my hope that we can take away the understanding that we asGod’s people, could learn a few things from the world and to help those in need, so that we will be welcomed into heaven.  And, if it is still baffling know that we are saved by grace and not by understanding the parable. Amen.

 

The Sixth Sunday after Pentecost  –   July 21, 2019
Luke 10:38-42

38 Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. 40But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him 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.” 41But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things;42there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

 

 

 Learning and Serving 

 

When I was young and fair, my father took me out to a country road to learn how to drive.  I had just passed my “365” which was the name for the beginner’s license back in the day; it now called a G1. He did the driving while we made our way into the back roads north of Port Hope where he shared with the basics of driving.  He parked the car at the side of the road and we switched places with me now being in the driver’s seat.  He told me to put my foot on the break, move in the gear from park into drive and release the break.  I did that and asked before we got going too quickly, “Now what do I do?” And he simply replied, “Get on with it!” That was one of my father’s phrases that he used, often in my hearing, as if to say, you’ve learned what I have taught you, now do it.  My father was a ‘get on with it sort of man’, and yet accessed situations before jumping in. His approach was a nice blend of thinking before you act and getting on with it.  This story might be construed as an introduction to today’s gospel reading from Luke.  We might think of my father’s approach to life as a nice blend of Martha the active one and Mary, the thoughtful one. The only problem with that Jesus said Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her. And, Jesus really isn’t mad a Martha for working.

To get to the meaning of this story we have to start at the beginning.  The first verse in today’s passion reads: 38Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home.Martha does the welcoming because hospitality has always been important and the early church was no exception.  This story tells us that a preoccupation with arrangements can lead to losing what the real purpose is, God’s people, not the stuff.  I have to keep telling myself to concentrate on the people in my life and not the stuff.  In this case it’s Jesus.  This is especially apparent when Martha cannot allow Mary to spend time listening to Jesus.

The next couple of verses read, 39She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. 40But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him 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.”The real issue here is not between Marth’s doing and Mary’s listening, but between hearing the word and anxious behavior.  The front cover of our bulletin really doesn’t capture her anxiety; Martha is too focused on Jesus.  Martha was distracted which in Greek means, “to be pulled from all directions”.  And, if we read the passage we see the me/I language creeping in: “Lord, do you not care that mysister has left meto do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.”It’s not about me or Martha, or you, it about God, about Jesus.

And finally, the last two verses:  41But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things;42there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.” Jesus chastises her for being worried and distracted.Now, none of us would ever have that problem.This passage is interesting because it speaks of a woman at the feet of Jesus learning, while the previous passages speaks of an outcast, a Samaritan doing the right thing.The message of the Good Samaritan is “Go and do likewise” while Mary has choose the better part of listening and remaining still.  If we were to ask Jesus which example applies to us, the Samaritan or Mary, his answer would probably be, “yes”.Service to God and God’s people is who we are, and yet focusing on Jesus is central to our faith.  We end our liturgy today with the words, “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord”.Learning how to love the lord is a life journey, a journey of ups and downs, prayers, petitions and thanksgivings.Serving is certainly not a bad thing, but anxiety is not healthy.  Perhaps that’s why there is a statement about peace in this dismissal.  We should experience peace and joy in our learning and our serving. Amen.

 

ngst our brothers and sisters is the question we should be asking ourselves. If there is one thought, one take-away in this sermon it would be that we are all one in Christ. May we life that out to its fullest through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.