July 15, 2019
Jesus, priceless treasure,
source of purest pleasure,
truest friend to me:
ah, how long I've panted,
and my heart has fainted,
thirsting, Lord, for thee!
Thine I am, O spotless Lamb;
nothing in this world can hide thee,
naught I ask beside thee.
[Evangelical Lutheran Worship #775]
The assigned lectionary readings for July 21, 2019, the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost, are as follows:
In late October of last year, I spent several days at the Abbey of Gethsemane near Bardstown, Kentucky, in silent retreat. I wrote about the experience in my Monday Musings post of November 5, 2018 (click on the date to read, if desired).
The Gospel reading for this coming Sunday about Martha and Mary brought back pleasant memories of that retreat because I am one of those people who, at one time, couldn't shake the nagging feeling that sitting quietly for an extended period of time was wasteful. I felt I was failing to accomplish all the things that I had to do.
In our day and age, our lives appear to be constantly in motion. We live in an age of the smart phone, the tablet, the laptop, and many other means of communication. I'm not unique in that I happen to own one of each. We text, email, voice mail, we multitask. And amidst those terribly busy lives, we so seldom take the opportunity to sit quietly.
Besides my morning devotion, I try to spend an hour in the evening reading. But that doesn't really count. By sitting quietly I mean sitting alone and in silence, with nothing else to do and nothing else to accomplish except to be quiet. Even those of you who are retired have a thousand thoughts running through your mind when you are sitting.
It's easy to spend a lot of time doing stuff that just is not that important, just to keep from doing nothing. We are tempted to measure our worth by how busy we are, and by how much we accomplish. Our society affirms our status by what we have, what we own, and what we do. Our culture has lost any real sense of Sabbath - the need for regular rest and renewal.
I've made reference before to Walter Brueggemann's Sabbath as Resistance: Saying No to the Culture of Now, in which he writes:
Sabbath is the cornerstone of faithful freedom. Such a faithful practice of work stoppage is an act of resistance. It declares in bodily ways that we will not participate in the anxiety system that pervades our social environment. We will not be defined by busyness and by acquisitiveness and by pursuit of more, in either our economics or our personal relations or anywhere in our lives. Because our life does not consist in commodity.
Pastors are notorious for that. I confess that if I am not chief of sinners in this case, I come pretty close. So this might stand out as my classic, "Don't do as I do, do as I say," essay.
This week's Gospel reading from Luke consists of only five verses, but down through the years it has aroused no shortage of reaction. There are many lessons to be gleaned from this brief passage, but so as not to overburden you, I want to share just one.
Luke's story of Jesus' visit to the home of Mary and Martha is making a point about attitudes.
There is a time to "go and do" and a time to "sit and listen". Martha was so anxious about doing that she had trouble hearing the word of God. Mary, on the other hand, had chosen to be attentive to the Lord, listen to his Word, and spend time with him in prayer, worship, and study. This is not a case of being either a doer or a listener, but finding a balance of being both.
But the good news of this lesson is that, as children of God, Jesus knows us so well, that even when we get it all wrong, when we crowd him out of our lives by all the stress and anxiety that we put on ourselves, despite our shortcomings and our weakness, Jesus loves us even more. And for that we say, "Thanks be to God."
Speaking of busyness, this week is packed with meetings.
Wednesday, our Conference Deans gather at the home of Pastor Bruce Roth, for week for our bi-monthly meeting.
Thursday, I will be at Camp Mowana for the Region Six Theological Education for Emerging Ministries (TEEM) training for mentors and supervisors.
Saturday morning, our Synod Council meets at Celebration Lutheran Church in Chardon.
That same Saturday afternoon, Buckeye High School will host the Medina Cluster of Lutheran Churches' Purpose Palooza Music and Service Festival, from noon to eight p.m. More information is available at www.purposepalooza.com.
Sunday, July 21, I will be with the people of God at Zion Lutheran Church in Wooster, as they say farewell to their pastor, the Rev. Ann Paynter, who brings her ministry to a close at the congregation.
The Lutheran Center offices will be closed Monday, so we will publish a Tuesday edition of Monday Musings next week.
This week and always, may you continue securely established and steadfast in the faith, without shifting from the hope promised by the gospel.
+Bishop Abraham Allende