July 17th, 2016: "Glorifying, Enjoying God!"

Text: Amos 8:1-12, Psalm 52;                          16th Sunday in Ordinary Time                           Sandy Nuernberg

Colossians 1:15-28; Luke 10:38-42                   9th Sunday after Pentecost                                Pastor

Title: “Glorifying, Enjoying God!”                   Smaller Membership Churches Sunday

First Presbyterian Church                                Sunday, July 17th, 2016                                      Pardeeville, WI


Please pray with me, O God, we ask that you silence every voice but your own, so that, in hearing your Word, and allowing it to come into our hearts, we may feel your Holy Spirit in us and obey your will, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. AMEN.


            I trust many of you here and now have been in the position of having friends or family-even strangers, at your home for a festive meal. You might have been the host/ hostess, you may have been on the receiving end, with respect to the entire event—from gathering together, enjoying the main course, to listening to each other’s stories, and providing your favorite dessert! The goal, however, was for enjoyment together, relationships made, and hospitality for and with one another.             


            I guess I admit the anxiety, and yes, preparatory activity for a party—I think, it’s as much work for two or ninety-two in having a party. Rick and I did this often years ago; we had pre and post UW football parties, I think we called them ‘open-houses’ where we invited many to celebrate. Truth be told, I thought Rick would be the host to encourage eating, drinking, being merry! I would be the hostess making sure the food was plentiful, tasty! We both thought everything else would fall in place. Almost always, it did, indeed!


You could say that is, in part, the existence, the scenery of our text in Luke’s gospel. Perhaps, it is difficult not to relate to either Mary or Martha in our hospitality towards others. Back then these women probably played the ‘male’ role: Martha as host (property), and Mary as hostess (with guest). I have to admit I was, and am a bit more of an anxious and active Martha, as many of us sympathize with her—I wanted to be sure everything was in place for our many guests, just like she wanted to make her guest, Jesus, comfortable, or in contemporary language of the text, ‘quite at home (p. 1427, E. Peterson, The Message).’My Gramma Em often said, “If you cook, bake good food, they will come!”


            Now we can’t expect that everyone is a workaholic, like Martha, even in hospitable ways. Some of us cater to her sister Mary, who seems to have taken a different position, made a choice to be calm, a quiet listener of Jesus, actually at his feet for his short visit under their roof. She ‘hung on to every word (The Message, p. 1427)’ he said while Martha worked in the kitchen. Further, we could say she was practicing her faith in glorifying, yes, enjoying God in Christ Jesus in her midst!


            Let’s take that a step further and relate it to the church, as Paul does in his commentary to the believers in Colossae (western Asia-minor); he speaks of three areas, Christ as being ‘first place’ in everything, the Colossians being steadfast in their faith in the promised gospel, and his (Paul’s) personal ministry in making God’s mysterious glory be known among the Gentiles. The theme is of Christ as the head of the body, the church, as we are those in hospitality/hard work to/for each other. Many of us here know the Marthas/Marys of our church; let’s take a minute, now, to think of them. We all need them, and can name them! Many of us are among them!

            Here is what I think we can take away from our story and realize how it has an impact upon us today. Jesus was in essence saying that first things come first! He was on his way to Jerusalem and the cross, and yes, somehow, someway, Mary knew that this time with Jesus was special. She wanted to be a part of his last visit with them. Her faith made her stay at his feet; watch every move of him. She was making first things first in receiving who and what Jesus meant to her at that time. She was getting all she could!


We also know Jesus never agreed with either Martha or Mary. He didn’t say one was right, the other wrong, in their making their choice. He did say to Martha that she could relax, and that perhaps, maybe she might learn from her sister Mary, about listening to what matters most. Remember early on in Jesus’ ministry, he taught the Lords prayer to them and then told the disciples food and clothing were not the most important things. He commented in his Sermon on the Mount (Matthew, Ch. 6:7-13, 30-35, The Message, p. 1317-18) about relaxing, and said, “…to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving.” Further, Jesus said, “Give your entire attention to what God is doing, right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow.” In other words, ‘live in this moment.’ Or, maybe Mary was saying to Martha, her sister, “Don’t just do something, SIT here with me!” (the opposite of, ‘Don’t just stand there, DO something!’)


            “First place in everything (Col. 1:17)” says the Apostle Paul. That’s pretty specific, isn’t it? It’s also a goal that many of us have in mind, over time, too, I imagine. I’m reminded of the numerous times we see in the sporting world, live, and on television where a participant will give a nod up-above, or state publicly, “I thank you(God)” for this—a win in the lengthy long-jump to go to Rio for the Olympics, a walk-off home-run in baseball, or a touch at the wire in the butterfly-swimming event for a World record.


            It all sounds pretty cool….but wait a minute. How does a person, in thinking and walking their faith, how do we, as Christians proclaim, much less glorify and enjoy the image, complexity of Jesus Christ? In doing so, aren’t we supposed to be, as church members, proclaiming the good news, whatever ‘our’ church understands Christ to be? Certainly Paul suggests and states that the glory of this mystery of God in Christ is in you. He says it is Christ in whom we proclaim, hope in glory, and enjoy forever. Further, Paul says, “…in Christ, all the fullness of deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the Head over every power and authority.” (Col.  2:9-10, NIV).


            As we hear the good news of the gospel for us today, Jesus visits us, cautions us to stop, look, listen, and instead of thinking we can provide, give, and make things right, we might be wise to receive God in Christ in us, in our being who we are, in our faith and practices of life. In our coming to worship together, we are in praise, song, prayer. We come to be at Jesus’ feet in hearing of a story of hospitality, relationship, grace and love. We listen to and affirm a God of strength, trust, glory; a God of calmness, hope, a God of peace. God in Christ Jesus is first place in everything. As Christians we might want to glorify and enjoy God forever and ever! Let it be so.


                                                                        Thanks be to God.            AMEN.  

  August 2018  
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