Psalm 15
LUKE 10: 38-42

July 19, 2020

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Those comforting words from Jesus in Matthew’s 11th chapter follow his condemnation of the people who lived in the cities of Chorazin and Bethsaida and Capernaum. Jesus had done all He could to demonstrate His love for all and God’s healing powers that came through Jesus yet the peoples of those cities were too occupied with themselves; focused on their personal desires, and frankly too darn busy to even notice much less follow the Son of God. And, you can’t be a believer unless and until you follow Jesus. Pick up your cross and follow me.

And, we heard in today’s Gospel lesson that Jesus turned to one of the women that He really cared about during His life and said, “Martha, Martha you are worried and distracted by many things. Only One thing is necessary.”

We live in a conflicted time my friends but it is often reassuring to return to what once was … to historical records rather than celebratory myths to discover that the human condition has always faced choices. That the Twenty First Century man and woman are really not that different from the First Century folks whom Jesus knew up close and personal. We all need to PICK UP OUR CROSS and FOLLOW JESUS.

There are realities that were true for Martha and for the people in Bethsaida, Capernaum, and Chorazin that are true for us today. These realities can impact individuals’ today’s, their tomorrow’s, and frankly even their eternity’s. Yet surprisingly, people avoid that same Jesus because each of us as individuals is in control of our daily lives, which mean we can impact our live’s outcome. But, that’s where things get sticky and complicated … that’s where even amidst financial success and the gaining of power the ultimate purpose of existence can get lost. Lost so easily amidst the storms of life.

Most of us are familiar with the mental health condition that is known as OCD or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It can be a very serious life impacting condition that without treatment, counselling and care can devastate an individual’s life while also impacting their family and others in their lives. In no way do I want to diminish the impact of this mental health condition as I argue my point this morning.

However, as we look at the difference between Mary and Martha … as we consider the lives of the people in those villages and cities that Jesus points out as having rejected Him there is a constant. Martha and those folks were all wrapped up in doing for themselves. They couldn’t stop to notice or to hear the Savior of the world. Even Martha who had Jesus right there in her home according to Luke, “was preoccupied with getting everything ready for the meal.”

She was too busy to sit at the Lord’s feet where her sister, Mary, sat listening to Jesus. Martha had tasks that she felt had to be performed before she could give some time to the Son of God. In fact, she complained to Jesus asking Him whether He thought Mary’s thoughts and actions should be spent away from the Lord. She wanted to pull another person into her focused and self intended direction … not caring that the healer, the peacemaker, the Son of God, and the messenger of God’s Word was right there if she only gave up her time for Him. Her treasured time … the tasks she felt were more important than being with God. I wonder how many of our friends, family members, and even some of those in worship today can relate to Martha’s quest to achieve, complete personal goals and priorities … and put God aside thinking its only for the moment but those moments add up and so often the connection with the Holy vanishes in the mist of busyness and self fulfillment.

Friends, as we have journeyed through this GLOBAL PANDEMIC … as we have all had our moments of trepidation and fears listening to the reports from our hospitals and governmental reports from every nation in the world … some of us learning of loved ones who have died or in my case people I care about who are about to die … all of us uncertain about the future … we have all stepped into a unique time period in the history of humanity where we have had the opportunity to consider what matters. Who matters. And who we are. And, perhaps most importantly whether devoting time to God and Christ are worth the time it takes to read God’s Word, pray, and experience the Holy in our world. So often it’s our world not God’s isn’t it? TAKE UP YOUR CROSS

As someone who has been basically living alone with a cat for almost five months I know the impact of isolation and the longing to get out into the world. Like many of you, I have not had enough quality time in person with family or friends. I am not sure if I remember what some friends look like in person because I only know them from being online. People I love and care about are absent from my in-person world. I actually watched part of a soccer match last week because I missed sports so much. These times have created the ultimate urge for self reward and self satisfaction, which can be seen on our news when people disregard the safety of masks and social distancing because they want to be themselves. Like that old Sammy Davis song they are singing “I’ve Got to be Me!” “Whether I am right or whether I am wrong … I’ve Got to be me.”

“Agitation, impulsivity, meaningless repetition of own words or actions … social isolation” all are symptoms of OCD. Guilt, anxiety, fear and depression … well from what I am seeing there isn’t much guilt happening just a lot of blame the other person .. blame, blame, blame and then live for me, me, me!

Martha wanted to make sure that the meal was perfect and the house was absolutely clean for Jesus even though he had already arrived. I am pretty sure that she didn’t have a robo vacuum so she was busy vacuuming, dusting, and getting all the dishes into the dishwasher. She wanted to pull Mary away from Jesus perhaps because she was anxious and we know she was definitely agitated. She was worried about her presentation not His message. How she looked not how she experienced God.

Jesus answered Martha’s demand that Jesus tell Mary to help by saying, “Mary has chosen the better part. It won’t be taken away from her.”

Friends, I have often referenced how technology has overloaded us and even our children with more and more stuff. Our phones buzz and bing when we don’t get certain tasks done … there are always reminders of how we should be connecting with the priorities of friends or our personal political leanings. Our Netflix and Prime shows already require hours of binging to see the complete seasons and it seems that we are making more and more choices because we think WE GOT TO DO IT … WE MUST FINISH IT … WE HAVE TO LOOK GOOD BECAUSE … WE NEED TO SHINE … oh Jesus … oh dear dear Jesus … you aren’t in the room so we can put You on our list. Martha had Him right in the room with her and she still put Him at the end of her to do list but Mary had made the right choice. And, Jesus looked Martha right in the eyes and said “It won’t be taken away from her.”

Fear? I don’t know … those folks in the cities that Matthew quotes Jesus as condemning we are not sure what pulled them in a direction that put God and Christ on the dusty shelves of their lives to be ignored even in the face of God’s miracles and love but so it was. They must not have feared God … today’s example of humanity certainly appears comfortable not following Jesus’ teaching … maybe they don’t fear the end game either.

I had a recent communication with someone from another community who was upset that I suggested that reading the Gospels might provide insight into living the life Jesus expects. The person told me that I didn’t understand that life is more complicated than spending time that way and that not everything Jesus said applied to that person. By the time this person finished speaking he was shouting at me.

Friends, there is a simple choice for us in the times we live in. The good news … the really good news … the incredibly fantastic good news is information that all of us this morning already are aware of. It’s God’s love … it’s Jesus’ reality … it’s the availability of the Holy Spirit to guide us and help us from making the wrong choices in our lives.

If there is anything I need to have at the top of my ‘TO DO LIST” and something I hope and pray you put on the top of yours it is to get closer with Jesus. Better connected. After teaching the lesson “Come to me all who are struggling … “ Jesus offered the solution to humanity’s struggles. Jesus said, “Put on my yoke, and LEARN from me. I’m gentle and humble and you will find rest for yourselves. My yoke is easy to bear.

Notice Jesus uses the word learn not sweat … not go crazy and get stressed out but Jesus is gentle … humble … we can find rest and peace friends from all the craziness that we allow ourselves to suffer from. But, we have to be willing to learn … we have to be willing to follow … it doesn’t take a PhD nor a mega million house with a Lexus parked outside … it takes people like you and me willing to say It’s Got to be Jesus!

Our Psalm today is a perfect teaching tool. If you weren’t taking notes earlier it is PSALM 15. If you want to learn from God … the lessons that have been consistent Old Testament and New. Lessons that Jesus coming from God was specifically tasked with teaching clearly you will find them there:

Do what’s right; live free of blame; speak the truth sincerely; do no harm to a friend and don’t insult a neighbor. Do no damage with your talk. Despise those who act wickedly and honor those who honor the Lord. Keep your promises even when it hurts.”

I could toss in Micah’s call that tells us what the Lord expects, “To do justice, embrace faithful love of all, and walk humbly with your God.” Jesus adds the two key commandments LOVE GOD and LOVE NEIGHBOR.

On Friday, we laid Edna Mae Schrier to rest. Friends, she loved God … she told me about a month ago that loving God was more important than anything because that is how you sense God’s love for you but if you can’t love God … you can think about what that means in this OCD Got to Do world. PICK UP YOUR CROSS and FOLLOW ME.

But last Sunday evening at our first church service together since March 15, I issued a challenge and it is going to be an ongoing one. I challenged those gathered and now I challenge each of us. Every single day for the rest of our lives I am asking you and putting this expectation on me … READ something from the Gospels. It can be two paragraphs or an entire chapter. The entire Gospels aren’t that long but we need to hear Jesus in our over extended, overly burdened 21st century lives and we can only hear Him but going to the place where He is quoted and his story is told. I pray that you find peace through God and Christ. That you listen rather than stay busy.


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