Evangelectionary for Ninth Sunday after Pentecost: July 17, 2016

Texts: Amos 8:1-12 and Psalm 52 or Genesis 18:1-10 and Psalm 15; Colossians 1:15-28; Luke 10:38-42

Message: “If Jesus Came to Your House”

If Jesus came to your house, what do you think you would do?  Would you prepare a big, fancy meal for him? Would you take him on a tour of your house?  Would you show him your new car?  Maybe you would take him for a ride.  Would you watch TV with him, or play pool?  Or would you sit down with him and ask him some questions and really listen to him and hear what he had to say?

When Jesus came to Bethany, on Jerusalem’s south side, Luke tells us Martha received him into her house and immediately began hospitality responsibilities: making him comfortable and preparing food for him, and the others with him.  Apparently she was running around doing what people do when guests arrive, making them feel at home.

Her sister, Mary, on the other hand, chose to do something else.  Luke tells us that she sat down at Jesus’ feet and listened to him.  Martha was “distracted” by serving lunch.  Disturbed by Mary’s inactivity she complains to Jesus: “Don’t you care that while I’m running around here trying to get this place ready for company, my sister isn’t helping me at all?  Tell her that she needs to give me a hand here.”  And I guess we can all understand where she’s coming from.

Jesus, however, surprises her with his answer: “Martha, Martha, you’re anxious and troubled about many things.  One thing is needful.  Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her.”  Instead of agreeing with her, Jesus graciously and warmly informs Martha that there are times when listening to him is more important than serving him.

Martha, while she was doing something for Jesus was really doing what she wanted to do for him, rather than what he wanted her to do for him.  And so, sensitively and affectionately, repeating her name, (and I could see him placing his hand on her shoulder) “Martha, Martha, there are times when it is best to cease activity and listen to me.”

As we look at the context of Luke’s gospel at this point we discover that Luke has been telling us about the mission of the seventy that Jesus sent out on deeds of service, love and mercy.  Then he includes the story of the Good Samaritan.  Then, as he retells the story of his visit to Mary and Martha’s home he says that service to Him must be initiated by first listening to what he has to say.  Remember, during the transfiguration of Christ, what God, the Father said to the disciples: “Listen to Him!”

While we may think of ourselves and our service to Christ as being very practical, like the seventy, and like Martha, we must also remember Mary sitting down at the feet of the master and letting our souls be nourished with the word of divine truth.  This becomes the motivation for the servant and the act of the obedient response our Lord requires of us.  I suppose Martha might have thought it was a waste of time to sit there and talk when there were so many things to do.  But, when we concentrate, and think about the words of Jesus then we can become truly productive in our work.  Vitality, energy and effectiveness follow revelation.  First let us hear; then let us do!

“Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken from her.”

There are many good things competing for our minds, our hearts, our time, our efforts.  The disciple that has learned to concentrate, and who will sit at the feet of Jesus daily, giving him the priority of our days is the one whom Jesus blesses.  What He teaches is practical.  The question is not whether He is relevant to us, but whether we are relevant to Him; for He teaches about life in it’s pure essence.  He teaches about health and healing, sin and forgiveness, work and worship, love and marriage, money and management, perseverance and prayer, hypocrisy and hope, death and resurrection.  Everything is here, in His words.  This is the place to begin all great work!

Quote(s):

“You are not losing time while you are feeding the soul by contemplating.  When you are getting purpose strengthened, motives purified you are rightly using time.” Spurgeon

Illustrations:

I had a Greek professor in college who reminded us when we took a Greek examination: “Think first, then write!”

Music:

“O Lord How Shall I Meet Thee,” Leupold Manz, organ prelude, postlude; “Jesus, Thou Joy of Loving Hearts,” “Jesus Calls Us O’er the Tumult,” “Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee,” “Just A Closer Walk With Thee”

Call to Worship

Come, you who inquire after truth, for those who seek will find.

Come, you who seek the soul’s nourishment, for those who hunger will be filled.

Come, you who yearn for something more, for those who thirst will be satisfied.

Opening Prayer

O God, we come, like Mary, to sit at the feet of Jesus, your Son, to come aside for a time from the pressures and busyness of life, to respond in awe to his presence, and to learn from his teachings and example the secrets of life.

Prayer of Confession

Leader: If we have not made time to sit at the feet of Jesus,

People: PARDON US AND OPEN OUR EARS TO HIS VOICE.

Leader: If we have paid more attention to the opinions and examples of celebrities,

People: PARDON US AND HELP US TO CHOOSE ROLE MODELS FROM THE WORD

Leader: If we have allowed ourselves to live without focus or direction,

People: PARDON US AND HELP US TO FOLLOW YOU.

Words of Assurance

If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. –John 8:36

Intercessory:

Today, let us remember in our prayers: Our Lord, that we might have listening ears to hear what He says to us…our church, that it might listen to Him and obey His voice, our world that it may be impacted in word and deed by disciples who’ve been with the Lord.  May God, through His Spirit equip us for the mission to which we’ve all been called and equipped to be light in the darkness and salt and leaven.  And to Him be the glory.  Amen.

Offertory Prayer

Our Eternal God and Savior, we realize that to whom much is given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.

So, as we give, we indicate our desire to be responsible caretakers of not only our material possessions, but also of the time and talents you have entrusted to our use and care.

Benediction

May Christ, according to the riches of his glory, grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through the Spirit, and may Christ dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. –Adapted from Ephesians 3:16-17

(Some prayers and other worship items courtesy of Leroy Koopman @ Liturgical Publications.  Subscribers are permitted to reprint material in non-profit publications only; all other reproduction is prohibited.  2013 Liturgical Publications Inc, LPi Resource Center, P.O. Box 510817, New Berlin, WE 53151-0817, 1-800-950-9952 ext. 2469)

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