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SERMON SUMMARY

By Alan Greene,2014-06-17 15:35
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SERMON SUMMARY ...

    SERMON SUMMARY

    Rev. Richard P. Smith

    First United Methodist Church Murray, Kentucky

    September 18, 2005

     “AT THE HOME OF MARY AND MARTHA”

    Luke 10:38-42

     “Jesus came to the village of Bethany, to the home of some friends, where Martha welcomed him and began to

    prepare a meal for him. Martha‟s sister was Mary. While Martha went about preparing the meal and setting the

    table, Mary sat at the feet of Jesus and listened intently to his teaching.

    While Jesus taught, Martha continued with all the preparations that had to be done. As Martha worked, Mary

    listened to Jesus. Finally, Martha could take it no longer. She stormed out to where Jesus was and asked of him,

    „Lord, doesn‟t it matter to you that my sister has left me to do the work all by myself? Tell her to help me.‟

    Jesus replied, „Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things. But Mary has recognized the main

    thing. She has chosen what is best, and it will not be taken away from her.‟”

    (A Modern Translation)

    It’s another interesting story in the life of Jesus. We know that Jesus had many friends and among

    those, according to biblical scholars, were two sisters and a brother Mary, Martha, Lazarus. On this thoccasion, described in the 10 chapter of the Gospel of Luke, Jesus drops by the home of Mary and

    Martha as he’s traveling around on his itinerant preaching and teaching ministry. As soon as Jesus enters

    the house, Martha goes to work setting the table and getting the meal ready. Mary, her sister, meanwhile

    sits at the feet of Jesus as he teaches there in the house. Martha, after a while, fuming because Mary is not

    helping her in the kitchen, storms into the room and demands that Jesus make Mary help her with the

    meal preparations. That’s our story and let’s learn some things for our own personal spiritual lives from it.

    I. MUNDANE EFFORTS FOR THE KINGDOM MATTER

    “Jesus came to the village of Bethany, to the home of some friends, where Martha welcomed him and began to

    prepare a meal for him” (A Modern Translation)

    Martha took on the tedious and mundane task of preparing the meal for Jesus and his disciples.

    You have to understand that hospitality was one of the key spiritual, religious, and cultural values of that

    day and time, in particular for Judaism. When a visitor came your way, it was a spiritual and religious

    responsibility to provide for their needs. If they needed shelter, to provide shelter; if they needed clothing,

    to provide clothing; if they needed food, to provide food. So Martha willingly takes on the tedious and

    mundane task of preparing the meal for Jesus and his disciples, an act of faithfulness to the law of

    hospitality.

     What this story reminds us, by Martha’s example, is that the Kingdom of God is fulfilled as much

    by the little things as it is by the big things, as much by the mundane efforts as by the grand and glorious

    efforts. The Kingdom of God is advanced not just by the preachers, not just by the missionaries, not just

    by the teachers, but also by the little things done, the mundane things done, the behind the scenes things

    done every day by countless followers of Christ.

     Let me illustrate this truth by a part of our Murray Katrina relief plan. As most of you know, we

    are in partnership with other churches, some community agencies, and Murray State University to provide

    housing for displaced persons at a house and some apartments being provided by Murray State. Now,

    someone is going to have to clean that house and those apartments. Some volunteers are going to have to

    go over there and do the tedious work of cleaning and preparing. And you can be certain that none of

    those volunteers will be interviewed by the Murray-Ledger Times about this. While others in the

    community, including myself, have been interviewed regarding Katrina relief efforts, these volunteers

    will not. They will get no front-page attention. But what they will do is absolutely essential to our

    ministry of providing safe and comfortable housing for these who have suffered so much.

     Don’t ever underestimate what difference little things done for God’s Kingdom can make.

    II. JESUS ONCE AGAIN BREAKS DOWN BARRIERS

    Martha‟s sister was Mary. While Martha went about preparing the meal and setting the table, Mary sat at the

    feet of Jesus and listened intently to him” (A Modern Translation)

     When Jesus invites Mary to his rabbinic teaching session, he is doing something unbelievable in

    that day and time. He is allowing, encouraging a woman to come and be a part of the teaching moment.

    This was anathema in that day and time. I’m not sure the average one of us can appreciate what this act of allowing Mary, if not inviting Mary and Martha to attend his teaching session, meant. Listen to this

    description of the role of women in that day and time and in that religious culture.

    “That Jesus would allow or encourage Mary to listen to him as he taught was radical.

    Women were openly despised by the Judaism of the time. Women were exempt from the study

    of the Torah. Many rabbis actively discouraged women from learning. But Jesus allows,

    if not encourages, Mary to listen. He probably invited Martha as well. Amidst the disciples,

    amidst the prominent members of the community, there sits Mary; a woman, a lowly woman.

    This is an unbelievable scene in that day and time.”

     Listen, friends, we follow a Lord, we worship a Master, who unequivocally teaches and models

    the truth that our walls must come down, our prejudices must be abandoned, our exclusions must cease.

    We follow a Jesus who does not accept our racial prejudices, who does not accept our gender biases, who

    does not accept our cultural and socio-economic exclusions. We follow a Lord who calls us to build

    bridges and tear down the cultural and religious walls that so clearly permeate our modern world and

    society.

     You cannot follow Jesus and allow prejudice, bias, and exclusion to be a part of your life!

    III. SOMETIMES OUR BUSYNESS IS A PROBLEM

    “While Jesus taught in the courtyard, Martha continued with all the preparations that had to be done. As she

    worked, Mary listened to Jesus. Finally, Martha could take it no longer. She stormed out to where Jesus was and

    asked of Jesus, „Lord, doesn‟t it matter at all to you that my sister has left me to do the work all by myself? Tell her

    to help me.‟”

     The problem with Martha, as previously noted, is not her willingness to prepare the meal; it’s the fact that she lets herself get consumed with this responsibility and this task. Jesus challenges Martha not

    because she’s focusing on the meal and its preparations, but rather because in being so busy with the meal

    she misses what is much more important, a chance to learn and grow spiritually.

     If ever there’s a message for modern day folks it is here. Jesus says to Martha, “Martha, Martha,

    you are worried and upset about many things.” In essence, Jesus is saying, even as he appreciates her preparations for the meal, “Martha, you’re letting the routines, the demands, the responsibilities get to you;

    you’re letting things get out of hand. You need to slow down and smell the roses, grab this moment, let

    go of some of that obsession with work and responsibility and demand.” This is a message for most of us,

    isn’t it? We become so busy with all the things going in our lives that we miss some of the things that

    matter most.

     Let me be specific. Some of you husbands and wives are so busy you’re missing special moments

    with your spouse. Some of you parents are so busy you’re missing special moments with your children.

    Some of you friends are so busy you’re missing special moments with friends. And most importantly,

    some of you are so busy you’re missing special moments with God.

     One poet sums up our need to slow down and experience the special moments of life in these

    words.

    Slow me down, Lord!

    Ease the pounding of my heart

    By the quieting of my mind.

    Steady my harried pace

    With a vision of the eternal reach of time.

    Give me,

    Amidst the confusions of my day,

    The calmness of the everlasting hills.

    Break the tensions of my nerves

    With the soothing music

    Of the singing streams

    That live in my memory.

    Help me to know

    The magical power of sleep,

    Teach me the art

    Of taking minute vacations

    Of slowing down

    To look at a flower;

    To chat with an old friend

    Or make a new one;

    To pat a stray dog;

    To watch a spider build a web;

    To smile at a child;

    Or to read a few lines from a good book.

    Remind me each day

    That the race is not always to the swift;

    That there is more to life

    Than increasing its speed.

    Let me look upward

    Into the branches of the towering oak

    And know that it grew great and strong

    Because it grew slowly and well.

    Slow me down, Lord

    IV. WE MUST NOT NEGLECT WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT

     “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things. But Mary has recognized the main thing.

    She has chosen what is best, and it will not be taken away from her.”

    We’ve all heard the statement, “Let’s keep the main thing the main thing.” In essence, that’s what

    Jesus told Martha. Though he appreciated her home making efforts, she had lost sight of the main thing.

    What is the main thing? Pure and simple, it’s commitment to Jesus Christ; it’s time with Jesus.

    I read recently about a conversation a pastor had with a couple wanting to know more about his

    church. The conversation went something like this:

    o “Pastor, can you tell us what your church has to offer us?”

    o “Well, certainly we have many fine programs and activities and ministry opportunities, but our best

    gift is an opportunity to go deeper with Jesus Christ through worship and service.”

    o “Okay, but what we need to know is what you offer us as husband and wife and our children that

    some other church doesn’t offer. In other words, why should we choose this church? Why should

    we come here?”

    o “Well, again, we have much to offer all ages and I can give you some literature, but we always

    want to emphasize the opportunities we provide to serve Christ faithfully and energetically.”

    o “Preacher, we’re going to be quite blunt. We visited a church that has a bowling alley, a new youth

    building, has a cafeteria for meals after church, takes the kids to the beaches in Florida, on ski trips,

    and to theme parks on a regular basis. Can you offer what that church has to offer our family?”

    o [Responded as kindly as he could] “Sounds to me like you’ve found the church you need and want.

    Nice to have met you.”

    You see, he knew this was not a match.

    We here at FUMC want to provide programs and ministries and activities that touch people’s lives

    and reach people. But, it’s not about entertainment; it’s not about making or keeping you or others happy;

    it’s not about filling every emotional and physical need you or others have. I’m proud of CLC gym and

    the recreation programs we offer therein; I’m proud of our children and youth facilities; I’m proud of our

    programs for older adults; but, friends, in the end our space and all our programs have to be about

    bringing people into a closer relationship with Jesus Christ. Nothing else ultimately matters.

    We must keep the main thing the main thing here at First United Methodist Church and the main

    thing must always be guiding each other toward true commitment to Jesus Christ.

    Closing

     So Jesus stopped by the home of Mary and Martha. While Martha worked in the kitchen, Mary

    listened to Jesus. After Martha came storming into the living room and demanded that Jesus reprimand

    Mary, Jesus challenged Martha to be aware of what she was missing. Again, we learn four things from

    this story for our own lives.

    I. MUNDATE EFFORTS FOR THE KINGDOM MATTER

    It’s not just the work of the preachers and the teachers and the missionaries that help bring in the

    Kingdom, it’s the little, mundane, behind-the-scenes things you are willing to do as well.

    II. JESUS ONCE AGAIN BREAKS DOWN BARRIERS When Jesus welcomed Mary into the inner teaching circle, we discover again that we worship a Lord

    who has no place for our racial prejudices, our gender biases, and our cultural and socio-economic

    exclusions.

    II. SOMETIMES OUR BUSYNESS IS A PROBLEM Unfortunately, we get so busy we miss out on the special moments and experiences and relationships

    that really make life worth living.

    III. WE MUST NOT NEGLECT THE MAIN THING The Church exists solely for the purpose of relating persons to Jesus Christ; nothing else we provide

    or do can be the main thing.

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