Sermon Summary for Sunday, July 17
See a Brighter Future and Make it So
Last Sunday brought the familiar story of Mary and Martha from the 10th Chapter of Luke. Jesus visits the home of Martha. While Martha busies herself with preparations for hosting the Lord, Mary sits at his feet and takes in his presence and his teachings. When Martha entreats Jesus to instruct Mary to assist in the preparations, Jesus says to Martha "you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed - or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her."
It seems appropriate during this complex and polarizing time to go beyond the usual Mary/Martha debate regarding the respective merits of contemplation and service. It feels more fitting to look for a meaning that has eluded us in the past.
Looking back to Chapter 9, we recall Herod, perplexed by Jesus, "tried to see him". The Greek word translated here as "see" is "idein", meaning to see in a creative manner. Chapter 9 also contains a powerful quote from Jesus, "no one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God". Here the original Greek that translates into "look" means to see physically or superficially.
Perhaps here lies the essence of this lesson. To look back, to see Jesus in a superficial or physical sense, is to miss the heavenly kingdom. Conversely, to see Jesus clearly is to look forward, with hope, seeing the possibilities of healing and reconciliation, and, most importantly, to act in a manner to bring about those possibilities. A recent example of this type of creative "seeing"' coupled with action is found in the story of Fred Barley, a homeless college student assisted by his local police and community. You can find Fred's story here.
So it is not that contemplation is better than service. Rather, seeing creatively,envisioning possibilities, and working to make those possibilities realities is better than taking the world at face value and looking back.
As we continue to strive, like Mary, to make a better world a reality, may we continue to daily pray this prayer by Phillip Brooks:
O God, Give me the strength to live another day; Let me not turn coward before its difficulties or prove recreant to its duties; Let me not lose faith in other people; Keep me sweet and sound of heart, in spite of ingratitude, treachery or meanness; Preserve me from minding little stings or giving them; Help me to keep my heart clean and to live so honestly and fearlessly that no outward failure can dishearten me or take away the joy of conscious integrity; Open wide the eyes of my soul that I may see good in all things; Grant me this day some new vision of thy truth; Inspire me with the spirit of joy and gladness; and make me the cup of strength to suffering souls; in the name of the strong Deliverer, our only Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Respectfully Submitted by Kelley Dial