Blogging Toward Sunday, June 10, 2018

Sermon: Rev. Bob Schall
Shipwrecked: When We Worry

Scripture: Luke 10:38-42
Theme: Jesus cares for our needs. 

Last week Pastor LeeAnn used as one of her scriptures, the story of the shepherd who leaves the ninety-nine sheep and looks for one lost one. When he finds the sheep, he places it around his shoulder, brings it home, and restores the flock to wholeness. But what if "being lost" does not mean being physically lost, as in making several wrong turns in your car and not recognizing any street signs? What if the "lost-ness" has to do with being unaware of your spiritual condition? And what happens if and when you begin to sense that you have lost your "spiritual way?"

In this week's Scripture Mary and her sister Martha have Jesus (and probably some or all of the disciples) as guests in their home in Bethany outside Jerusalem, the suburbs if you will. Jesus is teaching. He is probably outdoors, perhaps in the garden next to the house. Lazarus, his host, is probably by his side. From behind the house comes the smell of the roasting lamb on the spit mixed with leeks and other assorted taste treats. (Wonder if they had mint jelly to go with it in those days?) Then from around the corner of the house, from the place where the cooking is being done, comes the mistress of the house. The tranquility of the moment is compromised. With firmness she addresses the Master. I need some help in the kitchen to assist and supervise. I can't do it all! There is no question that Mary, who is taking in all that Jesus is teaching, is the object of this pointed request. It's an awkward moment as Mary is torn between duty and pleasure. Jesus to the rescue.

What is the answer in this moment of household conflict? Rather that attacking Martha for the intrusion, Jesus helps her evaluate and prioritize the moment. He addresses the question of worry. If you remember, Jesus repeatedly mentioned in Scripture not to worry.  Birds of the air are fed by the hand of God.  The flowers in the field are arrayed and are more beautiful than the wealthy King Solomon ever was clothed. (Just two examples.) We don't know how Martha dealt with Jesus' reply to her worries. (I just might touch a little on that in Sunday's homily.)

I do know though, that worry seems to be part of the human condition. The caricature from my youth of the kid in Mad Magazine saying "What-Me Worry?" has become for me what it was meant to be originally-a joke. From my personal perspective, I have found that worry is a progressive thing in life. As I child, I had very few worries (and what few I might have had were pretty basic, like a wet diaper or a broken toy).  As I moved into adolescence and teen years, I learned what worry really was (and was often deeply concerned about my worries.)  Adulthood did not solve worry, but I learned to find its root and worked to ease or eliminate it.  As we mature we find the answer to worry has been in front of us all the time (to seek a mature faith that has its basis in agape love; read and study Scripture; and pray, pray, pray).  Our worries do no disappear, but we can name and prioritize them.  That's what Jesus did with Martha in the Scripture.  He did not remove her worry about the work to be done in the kitchen, but he put her concern in perspective.

How would life change for us if we took every opportunity to bring our needs to Jesus as they arose? Our worries would probably not assume overwhelming proportions if we were to prioritize them, sort them out, and see what is really important.  That was the gift that Jesus gave Martha AND Mary. Maybe, just maybe, his insight could become a gift for us too.
I'll see you Sunday as we welcome back Pastor LeeAnn and our newly minted provisional Elder, Pastor Jim, to another year at Peace United Methodist Church.

I might mention in passing, that Pastor Jim's ordination exactly corresponds to my Jubilee year (50th) of ordination as an elder.

Br. Bob Schall
Order of St. Luke