Jesus In The House
Martha and Mary
Just out of interest this morning I would like to ask who here would consider themselves to be more like Martha and who would consider themselves to be more like Mary.
A Laziness Manifesto
I was about to write this sermon this week shortly after being the bathroom of our house and discovering that there was toilet roll strewn all over the floor.
It was like we had had the Andrex puppy in.
And I did think that I have to go and prepare a sermon on Jesus and Martha and Mary, and the Jesus story is about paying attention to our devotions, so I shall just leave the toilet roll on the floor.
The big thing that prevents this being a laziness manifesto is that the parable which comes before this story is the parable of the Good Samaritan, which is precisely about doing for others and not allowing ourselves to be ignore the needs of our neighbour, in the interests of piety, purity and prayers.
With The Door Open
Last week I lost my temper with a young person in our house, in a way which was loud and combustible, and no doubt slightly terrifying for the young person on other end of that temper, and I do wonder (given that we reap what we sow) what future misfortunes will be visited on me future years, teenage years (I am thinking crashed cars, emptied bank accounts, ruined carpets, failed exams) as a result of such an outburst.
I guess what I should be also concerned about is the way that such temper passes from generation to generation, and what outbursts of temper will be transmitted to grandchildren, because they first came from me.
I have to admit that I did not think of such things too much on the day that happened.
I was preoccupied with soothing the person that I had wounded
But I was also quite worried about something else.
The temper outburst was close to the back door of the house,
And I had accidentally left the back door open,
And as I peeked round the corner of the door, I hoped and hoped that none of our next door neighbours were sunbathing, cleaning their outside windows or worst of all, cutting the hedge.
We are very careful to censor what in our houses is allowed for outside consumption.
One of the painful things about a family breakdown, or bankruptcy, or some other crisis is that it is no longer painful to keep the inside inside any more, some of it has to leak outside.
What would my neighbours think if they spent longer inside our house?
And then another question, posed by our passage this morning,
What would Jesus think if he spent some time in our house.
Jesus With Martha And Mary
The tendency that Jesus seems to spot the most in Martha and Mary is a tendency that too many of us fall victim to,
That we get so harassed by little things,
That we lose the point.
The urgent sucks us away from the important.
What are the things that suck us away from the important. Why did Martha do what she did?
Martha Invites But Then Gets Lost
Why is it that Martha invites Jesus to her home, but then gets lost in the details of his being there.
There is something in Martha that desperately wants to do the right thing, but then struggles to be able to do that.
What is going on with poor Martha here?
I think, I guess, that she gets tormented, bothered by three different thoughts
These are some thoughts that bother her, stop her being able to relax, to enjoy Jesus.
The first question is this to Jesus “Jesus do you not care?”
When we do not feel cared for by God, if we do not feel that God somehow will protect us, if we feel that it is only our job to protect ourselves, then we will become more anxious.
One of Jesus biggest lessons about worry is that we do not realise that this is a universe where it is profoundly safe for the person of faith to be. God has his eyes on us.
The one who does not know this – rises too early and goes to bed too late, eating the bread of anxious toil.
The second is in this relationships with her sister,
“My sister has left me alone to serve”
It is the projection onto someone else, that what for them has been a neutral choice, a decision that they did because they thought that something was best, was actually an attack on us.
Think of the last time that you felt hurt by someone, that kind of hurt you get when you think that someone that was having a go at you.
Now is it possible that what they did was not actually an attempt to hurt you,
But an attempt to do what they perceived to be best.
And the third thing, is the inability to say, the inability to tell the other what it is that hurts us. Martha doesn’t turn to Mary and say “Mary could you help me here”
There is a fear here that she might lose the argument, or there is a need to build up allies. So she enlists Jesus help, because this is somehow easier.
When we build up resentments, one of the first things that we have to do is build a communication channel with the person that we need to speak with,
Get a time in the diary, Get a meeting, ensure that that outlet is going to be there, otherwise there is no chance of this getting sorted,
Going through third parties is not an option.
There is an interesting dispute in Philippians, which happens in Churches all the time.
It’s between two women called Euodia and Syntyche (Phil 4:2), who both have contended hard with Paul for the gospel. It is not the case that one is close to Paul, and the other is not entirely worthy or Church membership. Both have contended for the gospel, side by side with Paul.
And now he urges them first of all “to agree in the Lord”
It is something that they are going to have to do with each other.
There is a request for one of Paul’s companions to help them,
But ultimately it is between the two of them face to face that peace must be made.
So these things are getting at Martha
– Jesus doesn’t care
– My sister has deliberately left me alone
– I cannot speak directly to my sister.
And what Jesus does to resolve this, is actually to turn things on Martha, and this is what makes the story quite hard.
That sometimes we can get ourselves worked up with self-righteous anger, we think of the things that the other person might have to do to make this right
– will an apology be enough
– Or will a consistent month of heavy duty house work be sufficient
– Or will be always prefer that we are the wronged party, the victim, and they the perpetrator.
And instead Jesus turns on us, and says, think what happens behind the doors of this house, that is destroying you, that is missing the best part.
What is missing the best part.
It is the propensity that we all have to lose ourselves in busy-ness,
And miss the important thing
And that causes these problems – the failure to communicate, the perception that the other has deliberately harmed us, the sense that Jesus doesn’t care.
Busy-ness makes you more liable to these things
– failure to communicate
– sense that Jesus does not care
– sense that the other has deliberately hurt us.
And missing the point.
What is the point?
The point is to be with Jesus.
To live like Jesus, to be with Jesus.
That is the point.
If Jesus were to come in your back door,
What would he see, people with Jesus, people living like Jesus
Stephen Covey in his book “7 habits of highly successful families” writes of family life being like an aeroplane.
An aeroplane when it flies from one airport to another, say for example, from London to Glasgow;
It will rarely be pointing at Glasgow.
There will be all manner of things that knock it off course.
The fact that the run way in Heathrow does not point straight at Glasgow
The fact that there is bad weather or a dust cloud
The fact that there is cloud, or rain
The fact that there are other planes in the sky.
Things happen to the aeroplane that mean it has to change course.
But because the plane knows where it is meant to be going, it knows how to change course.
The lives inside our homes are like that aeroplane.
We get buffeted off course
By money worries, by time constraints, by interruptions, by illness;
And we get buffeted by our own tendencies – the perceptions about others around us, the failure to recognise that Jesus cares
That is life.
But do we know what the course back is?
Do we know that how to correct our course
To choose the one thing that really counts
To be with Jesus
To live like Jesus.