Tuesday, July 19, 2016

No multitasking in the Kingdom. . .

Sermon for Pentecost 9, Proper 11C, preached on Sunday, July 17, 2016.

    Drive anywhere and you see many multitaskers – eating while driving, talking on the phone, eating breakfast, putting on lipstick, tuning the radio, even texting.  We have come to believe that we evolved to this great moment of achievement – we can do many things all at once.  Now you certainly don’t need me to tell you this.  Perhaps you may think that the job of a preacher is to tell you what you need to pay attention to,  how to multitask and juggle many things at the same time and figure out which is most important right now.
    Even though we get that Martha is wrong, she is our sympathetic choice.  Jesus came with an entourage of people and somebody had to take care of them.  Martha is the typical first born who organizes, directs, and controls.  All the while she complains that she is the only one working and that everything fell on her shoulders.  Does that sound familiar?
    Well, things gotta get done!  There is so little time and so few good helpers.  If you want it done right, do it yourself.  Yes, we know Martha was wrong but we instinctively side with her against Mary.  After all, can’t Mary lend a hand AND listen to Jesus?  Why you are doing that right now – juggling all sorts of thoughts in your mind, maybe on your phone, listening to me – right?  You should not have to choose; you can do it all!
    What Martha forgot while she was busy trying to take care of Jesus is that Jesus had come to take care of her.  While she was busy preparing dinner and complaining about having to be a slave and do it all herself, Jesus had in fact come to be not the guest but the host.  He was the benefactor to all who would listen – Mary got this but Martha did not.  Martha was under the mistaken illusion that Jesus was a burden to be born and not a gift and blessing.  She was trying to do all things well but Jesus had come to do all things for her, if her heart would give Him room.  Could we have the same problem?
    Mary did the right thing – but it is the rigth thing none of us want to do.  She gave the Lord her rapt attention, laying down all that competed for her attention to focus on Christ the Host, the Benefactor, and the Savior.
    Isn’t it a waste of time to focus upon Jesus when you can do other things at the same time?  Doesn’t it seem unreasonable to keep your attention upon the Lord when there is so much going on around you?  We are tempted to think that good multitasking will substitute for faith and rapt attention on Jesus any day.
    Why no one can pray that long or read the Bible before getting bored or stay in church all morning when we all have other stuff to do?!  Martha may have gotten it wrong but she is our sympathetic hero.  Who can be Mary all day long?  Not me!
    Jesus is not come for multitaskers who have their priorities straight or those who can do many things at once.  He is come to serve us with His grace, to deliver to us the forgiveness of the cross and the promise of the resurrection.  This is not one of many things deserving of our attention.  The cross is the one thing needful.  We cannot have the best of both worlds.  We cannot walk half in the shadows of sin and half in the light of Christ.  We must have the one thing needful and it must have us.
    Jesus is not one of many balls we juggle or one of many choices we must balance.  He is the one needful and His kingdom the one thing needful.  He is our God enfleshed of the Virgin by the Spirit to stretch out His arms upon the cross in payment for our sins and to empty death of its sting.  He is come to cover our unrighteousness with His holiness that we might live in His Light alone.  He raises us to new life in baptism that we may know Him and Him only and live under Him in His kingdom forever.  He calls to us from the voice of His Word that we may not depart from Him – the way, the truth, and the life.
    Now He comes to feed us upon His flesh and blood – the holy and heavenly food we cannot provide and only He can.  Seek Him and all things will be added to you.  Seek Him not or seek Him in competition with other claims upon your heart, and you will have nothing.  The Gospel has exclusive claim upon us.  The Holy Spirit alone can impart this knowledge and convince our itching ears and hearts to attend to the one thing when we want to be and do all things at the same time.
    God is come not to teach us to balance all things, to be good multitaskers.  No, He is come to address us with His mercy and grace, to open to us the Kingdom where forgiveness reigns and death is done.  This is the one thing needful.  To have everything else without Christ being all in all is to have nothing.  To have only Christ is to have all things.  God grant it for Jesus’ sake.  Amen.

1 comment:

John Joseph Flanagan said...

You are correct. Jesus cannot for one moment be just one among many of our interests and obligations. Jesus must be first. All other things, even important things, are secondary to the relationship we have with Our Lord.