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Hospitable Homes - Sermon on Luke 10:38-42

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Nothing wrong with making a home inviting and comfortable to live in. But there is a place and a time for everything. And we need to make time for God. 

This sermon is quite a bit different from how it was written, therefore, please listen to the sermon rather than read it.  The sermon notes which are included for convenience.  

Sermon delivered at Lutheran Church of the Cross in Berkeley. 

July 11, 2016- 9th Sunday after Pentecost

"Hospitable Homes".  Text is from Luke 10:38-42

Click here for sermon audio


Good morning to you my sisters and brothers, saints and sinners, disciples of Christ and children of God.

Balance in life is something that we can all stand to merit from, but balance is sometimes hard to find, particularly when the world is giving you a series of unplanned events that shift and take you to places you did not expect to go. When then do we find the time to sit and process what is happening to us? When our lives go from one busy moment to another, when do we experience the retreat needed to rest from the busyness, creating moments in the silence to listen for God's wisdom to help us understand the massive barrage of signals from everywhere we constantly receive. 

Jesus is traveling in our passage and arrives at a certain village. If we assume that the sisters Mary and Martha are the same two in John, which there is no reason not to, then we know the village to be Bethany, as they appear a few times in our gospels, but at least in Luke this is obviously their first appearance. And Martha is indeed the one who excels in being a hostess. She welcomes the unexpected Jesus into her home and sets about making all things right, that his stay in their home be one where he feels beloved and welcome, that in his appreciation he sees her appreciation of him vis-a-vis all the busy work she does for him. 

But, of course, Martha begins to resent her sister, who instead of helping her, decides to instead hang out with the guest, listening to him and just generally remaining restful. Who knows what is passing through Martha's head as she approaches Jesus to ask him to tell her sister to go help her. Is this a common occurrence that Martha feels frustrated that she cannot directly ask Mary to help her out? Has Mary tuned her sister's nagging out? The depths of implications that take place in this relationship are numerous, but Jesus answer is simple. Martha frets and distracts herself, but the guest is already there.

Domestic servant ironing

The Lord is within the house, so why should Jesus tell Mary to get up and do the work, after all Martha has been doing it all? I mean, Mary has made it her life's purpose to see to the laundry, the kitchen, the dishwashing, the sweeping, what has she left for Mary to do anyway? 

My very good friend, Jed used to live with Michael and me. Jed has what he himself even calls OCD otherwise known as obsessive-compulsive disorder. And mind you, Michael and I, while not being super rigid in our cleaning habits, are far from people who are comfortable living in pigsties. But Jed can be bothered by even the tiniest of stains, and what most of us would see as a few crumbs of food on the floor, Jed sees as a crawling, seething mass of disgusting garbage that must be obliterated. 

When he got into a cleaning frenzy in our apartment that we shared in North Oakland, it was not a place that I, who preferred at those times the comfort of my little desk, computer and world, wanted to be anywhere around. 

And by and large, the benefits we received from such a relationship were that our bathroom and kitchen were often spotless, our carpeting was continuously free from silt and the day's dust settle. But there were drawbacks of course. The work that our friend did was not entirely without guilt. There were times he did express frustration that he felt he was the only one contributing. My retort was often that his standards were too high and if he just waited a couple days more dirt or grime to collect I would have been past my own breaking point but that never flew too well. It was often better to be silent about it and just say thank you, and try to find opportunities to contribute whenever I could. 

Now, I'm not saying that I was necessarily following "the better part" by any means. On most days, even in our home, I am not the most vital contributor to housecleaning, but that does not mean that I am sitting by contemplating the meaning of life or keeping my eyes on Jesus. I did, during our time with Jed, learn to appreciate a greater standard of cleanliness in bathroom and kitchen care, and do try to maintain a higher standard, but even when he came to visit us recently he decided on his last day in our house, while both Michael and I were out that he spent the afternoon making our kitchen sparkle and shine. Some people find meditation within the act of cleaning and housework. And then the tasks become less distraction and more centering, and it becomes easier to talk to God and listen to what God has to say for us.   

A balanced life is vital for each and every one of us. And while the hospitable act is important to show our houseguests we appreciate them by making our homes as welcoming and inviting places as we possibly can, the better part is, certainly showing our own appreciation to them for who they are. Mary's unwavering attention to Jesus is, in fact, the difference to be made. While Martha's tasks are ever going, even while Jesus is right there, in their home, someone has to attend to their guest, whether they be the Lord Jesus Christ or any other simple traveler. 

But remember, my sisters and brothers is that Jesus does not think any less of Martha for the work that she put forward. She does her Lord Jesus a service with all the work that she does around her house in being a wonderful hostess. There is indeed time for our daily lives of tasks and business that we need in order to maintain healthy and productive lives, there is also a time for rest and relaxation, for quiet and contemplation, that we may spend in intentional conversations with God, to recharge, refuel and revitalize ourselves. In the gift of faith to that God has provided us and in the grace we received on his glorious resurrection he has chosen us as his people. And in doing so, God seeks us out to spend that time with him. The good news is that God is available to us at any moment of any day that we want to call on him, to listen to us, guide us and remind us that we are beloved and have a place in God's home, waiting for us. 


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This page contains a single entry by Cary Bass-Deschenes published on July 17, 2016 6:18 PM.

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