Homily – Numbers Don’t Always Count

Luke 10:1-20                                    (MSG)

10 1-2 Later the Master selected seventy and sent them ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he intended to go. He gave them this charge:

“What a huge harvest! And how few the harvest hands. So on your knees; ask the God of the Harvest to send harvest hands.

3 “On your way! But be careful—this is hazardous work. You’re like lambs in a wolf pack.

4 “Travel light. Comb and toothbrush and no extra luggage.

“Don’t loiter and make small talk with everyone you meet along the way.

5-6 “When you enter a home, greet the family, ‘Peace.’ If your greeting is received, then it’s a good place to stay. But if it’s not received, take it back and get out. Don’t impose yourself.

7 “Stay at one home, taking your meals there, for a worker deserves three square meals. Don’t move from house to house, looking for the best cook in town.

8-9 “When you enter a town and are received, eat what they set before you, heal anyone who is sick, and tell them, ‘God’s kingdom is right on your doorstep!’

10-12 “When you enter a town and are not received, go out in the street and say, ‘The only thing we got from you is the dirt on our feet, and we’re giving it back. Did you have any idea that God’s kingdom was right on your doorstep?’ Sodom will have it better on Judgment Day than the town that rejects you.

13-14 “Doom, Chorazin! Doom, Bethsaida! If Tyre and Sidon had been given half the chances given you, they’d have been on their knees long ago, repenting and crying for mercy. Tyre and Sidon will have it easy on Judgment Day compared to you.

15 “And you, Capernaum! Do you think you’re about to be promoted to heaven? Think again. You’re on a mudslide to hell.

16 “The one who listens to you, listens to me. The one who rejects you, rejects me. And rejecting me is the same as rejecting God, who sent me.”

17 The seventy came back triumphant. “Master, even the demons danced to your tune!”

18-20 Jesus said, “I know. I saw Satan fall, a bolt of lightning out of the sky. See what I’ve given you? Safe passage as you walk on snakes and scorpions, and protection from every assault of the Enemy. No one can put a hand on you. All the same, the great triumph is not in your authority over evil, but in God’s authority over you and presence with you. Not what you do for God but what God does for you—that’s the agenda for rejoicing.”

 

 

HOMILY

 

When I first knew that God was calling me to this church… I began disassembling our house and packing boxes. I packed boxes every day for three months and stacked them in the garage. Even with yard sale, many late night runs to various dumpsters, and trips to Good Will… I still had filled a large two car garage and stacked two and three boxes high.

I thought, for two people who had accumulated a lifetime of stuff… this wasn’t too bad —

Until the day the semi-trailer truck pulled into our little cul-de-sac for the move. The driver walked through the house and began putting yellow tags with numbers on everything….

Before he had come close to finishing… he said Oh, Oh..

Apparently the company contracted to estimate the load had been inaccurate… by 4000 pounds… (remember the estimate was made BEFORE sorting, selling, throwing and donating.

I asked if there was a problem, and he said there was. The estimate was for only ¾ of the trailer… and he was to pick up two more loads in route to Nebraska…He had to call his office in Michigan to have another truck sent for the other loads. I still could not believe our stuff would take up that much space in a semi-trailer…

Well, after eight hours of five men and two dollies loading the trailer to within inches of the roof… and front to back— they got it all loaded — but barely. And we didn’t bring washer and dryer or refrigerator. After preparing for this move – literally handling every possession we have… then packing the truck… I can now understand why it was that Jesus suggested to his followers that we ‘carry no purse, no bag, no sandals’….

Jesus understood how belongings can be a burden – how possessions divide our attention–how things divert our focus –how stuff can prevent progress

Jesus then sent these followers out in pairs, rather than one by one…We are not given his reasoning for this,        Maybe Jesus thought it was more   effective to send his followers out in               pairs sharing diverse gifts.

They would be accountable to one another, They would be encouragement for one another, They would be safer traveling in pairs.  But who were these followers?

Scripture just states that Jesus appointed seventy others…Not priests… not prophets… not scholars… not royalty…

OTHERS…..

Others sent to share God’s peace – cure the sick – cast out demons – and share God’s love..Contrary to popular belief these acts do not require professional religious leaders – to perform these acts requires trust in God’s reign. Sending out ordinary people shows us that everyone is called into God’s ministry….and can carry out that ministry in any number of ways.

Flannel blankets cut and tied are a ministry to children through Linus Project – and to those at the end of life in the hospital.

Some of these are tied by young people with mental illness; older people who still wish to contribute and everyone in between.        Taking turns to serve breakfast to the homeless.                                   Collecting household items for refugees                                                                Distributing necessities to panhandlers                                                       Picking up the tab for groceries for a struggling family.                  Collecting eye glasses for the poor                                                               Giving rides to dr appts                                                                                              Hospice House volunteer – ministry was to go room to room and clean the resident’s glasses.

These are ministries – that do not require professional training –Theological research  Special skills    Or money….Just time — and a desire to be part of God’s ministry…

The followers were sent out empty handed –

Another reason for this might have been so that these followers ministry to others would require them to depend on relationships to survive…It required them to help others learn to help themselves, rather than supplying for their need—or fixing the problem….

Is this story a good example of a successful ministry?                                   It was seventy ordinary people – untrained – unskilled and sent out in pairs       When it comes to having a successful ministry- it may not look like what we would expect –When the seventy returned excited at their ‘success’, Jesus reminded them that their success was because of him… and not they themselves…

Often, ministers measure the ‘successes of their ministry by the numbers in the pews… by the money in the plate                                         If that is a legitimate way of measuring… then many churches are very UNSUCCESSFUL…

FACEBOOK   Modern Religion Focuses on Filling Churches with People. The True Gospel Emphasizes Filling People With God.(www.revivial-library.com)

Jesus taught us to be more concerned with the health of the community not the size of it. Jesus knew the difference between CROWDS and followers…One who reads the gospel of Matthew       quickly realizes there is a real difference between crowds and         disciples.

So, it may be that the message we have here is                                           The health of a church is not based                                                                        upon the number of people who attend.

But whether the church is producing disciples.

So when we worry about church growth —Remember – we are healthy and successful  Because

We are more concerned with growing disciples than numbers!

Homily – Mary and Martha

Luke 10:38-42   (MSG)

Mary and Martha

38-40 As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. “Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.”

41-42 The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.”

People are interesting—

Some people are morning people while others are night people

Some people are always in motion, while others are content to remain still.

Some people are get up and go DOERS while others are sit down, reflect and BE-ers.

________

Some people fret over every detail while others go with the flow…

Some people sweat the small stuff AND the big stuff, while other people take life as it comes and deals with the big stuff.

 

Jesus sees Martha is tied up in the small stuff, and angry that Mary is unfazed and hanging on Jesus’ every word…

Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.”

Jesus told Martha to let go of the little things and focus on the essentials… keep your eye on the ball – determine what is important and what can wait…

Prioritize –

Give the important things the TIME it deserves… and that time is a peculiar sort of time..

It is “kairos” time instead of “chronos” time,

Which are two Greek words for time.

KAIROS Time – opportune time –                                         God’s time –                                                 season –                                                  fitting time

CHRONOS –   Chronological time –                                 duration                                                    Sequence

 

In other words KAIROS- the fullness of time instead of the mere ticking and keeping of time which is CHRONOS.

Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing –

Instead – soak yourself in the FULLNESS of time

Like Martha, we get caught up in the busyness of life… that we miss the fullness of life.

 

ILLUSTRATION

A man goes on vacation with his family.

It’s been a long year, and he is looking forward to this suspension in the normal routine of things.

He is ready to put away the calendar and to get beyond a telephone and to do different things for a little while.

But, without his noticing it,

the to-do list for his vacation is as long as      the to-do list back at the office.

Read these novels                                      go to this museum,                                   take this hike,                                    eat at this restaurant,                           get cabin repaired                                     buy and absorb these newspapers.

Until one night, early on in the two weeks            away, his little four-year-old says,

“Daddy, will you read me my stories       tonight?”

He stretches out on the bed next to her,        and they read.

 

And, because she’s tired, he knows                      that as soon as this last story is                         finished,

he can get back to his novel and begin                planning the events of the day                        tomorrow.

But instead. When the last story is over,               she says,

“Daddy, will you just sit here until I fall asleep.”

And so he does.

And with the light out                                while she sings herself to sleep,                            he listens to her voice                                       fade quietly away,

then he listened to her breathing,

the curtain rustling quietly in the soft breeze

THEN- he listened to the holy sounds made by wonder itself.

Suddenly He is aware of the

fullness of time

and the keeping of time is not as    important

and he is thankful.

People need more of that kind of time.

So maybe we appreciate this interpretation of these words of Jesus to Martha:

Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing.

One thing only is essential,

and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course,

and won’t be taken from her.”

The fullness of time…. Time to smell the roses

Time to JUST BE as well as TO DO

__________

Martha is not just in need of the DURATION of time – to get things DONE –

but also the FULLNESS of TIME to receive spiritual enlightenment.

And Martha needs the ability to know which TIME she needs….

Chronos or Kairos –

so she can recognize the moment God is breaking through – and be sure she isn’t distracted by filling Chronos time with busyness….

__________

This story shows how                       Sometimes, what matters the most is the contemplative response ( MARY )

And sometimes what matters is the Going and — Doing response which is often a result of when God breaks into one’s life…

One response is not better than the other.

What matters most is the ability to discern what to do on each moment.

 

Just here is where Martha’s busyness is ill-timed.                                                   It’s not the busyness by itself                              that’s the problem,

but the timing of it.

Paul Tillich once put it this way.

“There are innumerable concerns                 in our lives and in human life                           generally,” he says,

“which demand attention, devotion,              passion.

But they do not demand infinite     attention, unconditional devotion,        ultimate passion.

They are important, often very      important, for you and me and                     for the whole of humankind.

But they are not ultimately                        important….”

Sometimes, the faithful thing to do is to drop                      everything and sit still and listen ~                          like Mary.

Other times, the faithful thing to do is to get busy and to commit to some important task ~ ~ like Martha.

If we were to ask Jesus which of these two           things we need more of ~                     Mary’s reflectiveness or Martha’s activism ~ he would probably say yes.

Again – it is not a matter of good or bad

Right or wrong

Be or Do —

It is BOTH — AND

___________

 

 

We must be mindful and watchful of how God’s Kingdom may be drawing near….

In one who is in need

An Injustice that needs righting

Noticing the beauty of the world

Then discern if you are

TO BE (Mary) OR NOT TO BE (Martha)         

Thanks be to God.

Ministerting to Refugees / Homeless

Refugee

Karen and Jane – Shopping for household items to                                        assist refugee families

Open Door Missions - Serving Breakfast - July 8, 2016

Breakfast Queens – Rev. Susan, Peggy and Debbie                                         serving pancakes at Open Door Mission

Open Door 2

Peanut Butter Patt brightening someone’s day                                             at Open Door Mission.

Open Door 3

Helping Hands at Open Door Mission Breakfast                                            – Peggy, Barb, Patt and Debbie