Sunday, 21 July 2019

Be More Mary. A sermon on Luke 10:38-42

Our intercessions were prayers of thanks and inspiration for our ability to BEe.

The Gospel according to Luke    10th Chapter: 38-42

38 As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed them into her home.       

39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord's feet, listening to what he taught.       

40 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said,    "Lord, doesn't it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to   
come and help me."       

41 But the Lord said to her,    "My    dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details!       

42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about.    Mary has    discovered it, and    it will not be taken    away from her."


Most of us have heard this text many many times and we all know that poor Martha gets a bad rap for worrying about the stuff that needs doing rather than just spending time with Jesus like Mary did.  

We know we should be more Mary
We know we should worry less
We know we should be less distracted by all the things life throws at us
We know we should take more time to be with Jesus

But then life gets in the way
The reality of life and it's stresses and worries and chores and endless to do lists

And so I wonder ...... 
how would each of us respond if Jesus came to dinner. 
How would you respond?
How would I respond if Jesus came to dinner???

In fact let's not wonder, let's have a quick survey to see how we have actually responded when we had a surprise visitor for dinner.....


Who can remember a time when they had a visitor say they were coming to visit with very little notice? Maybe not for dinner, perhaps for a coffee or a playdate?

Who had a sudden panic about the state of the house/ their bedroom?  Or had their parent panic?

Who decided they needed to rush out and get food or milk ? Or bake a cake?  

Who ran a vacuum cleaner round the house?

Who tidied up the pile of paper and random stuff that accumulates on the kitchen table?

Who mowed the lawn and dead headed the flowers and weeded the borders and made sure the garden looked it's best?

Quite a lot of Martha behaviour there.
A lot of perfectly normal behaviour making sure we're being good hosts and making our homes the best they can be 

Anyone just happy to be as they are when a surprise visitor comes round?
Any Marys?


The visitor now arrives. 
Hi, it's great to see you, come on in.

Who just brings their visitor into their home, sits down and starts chatting?  No fussing, no worrying; no offering; just chatting and listening?
Any Marys?

Who is busy getting the meal perfect and has half an eye on that whilst trying to chat to their visitor?

Who starts offering drinks and biscuits or cake or snacks? Who worries that their guest is made to feel welcome?

That may not seem the same order of busyness that Martha is showing in the gospel, but she's only doing what would be normal for a woman of her culture when a visitor comes along - the same as making a cup of tea and offering biscuits is today.

I think we can all agree we'd be very Martha.  

In fact we'd probably feel quite guilty at the idea of a Mary reaction -  just sitting down with our guest. It would seem rude not to offer a drink at least.

Anyone still think they'd be a Mary if Jesus came to dinner?

I'm not sure many of us would be able to totally relax and just be with Jesus. 


When I read that this Bible reading was allocated for today's service I felt a push by God to share my experience about BEING and DOING. 

To share the way God has blessed me by helping me move from being a Martha to being a bit more Mary…..

Those of you who know me well from years gone by know that I'm a busy person.  I'm a doer. I like my to do lists.  

 I've reminded myself hundreds of times over the years that I should be more Mary, but ....  
There's always a but isn't there…

there are so many things that need DOING, especially in a church with loads going on like at St Nicolas or in our busy lives with all our responsibilities.

I was a busy busy woman; at church and school and community..  

I took on projects galore and I enjoyed seeing God at work in the projects and the people involved. 

I rarely stopped and I was energised doing lots of different things.  

I was all about the doing.  

Don't get me wrong, I spent time in prayer and time with God, but that was squeezed into my schedule rather than being the number one priority.

I was all Martha.
I was busy doing for God.

More than that…
 I was often caught up in the worries and distractions of a busy life, even though it was all focused on God.

I stressed that I wasn't doing everything well enough, 
that I wasn't doing enough
that I should probably do more.
I was doing a Martha.

Does this sound familiar to any of you? 


I knew in my heart that God loved me for who I WAS even more than what I DID, but the DOING seemed more important.  

Even though I absolutely valued others for who they were rather than what they did, I somehow couldn't do the same for myself.
And then, suddenly, I couldn't DO any more.  

Suddenly I couldn't see enough to read or drive or even leave the house on my own.  

I couldn't walk enough to get from the car to the church safely and I couldn't stand to have a conversation, let alone chase around after the kids or grab someone for a conversation.  

My ability to DO was almost entirely gone.  
I was a Martha who couldn't Martha.

A servant who couldn't serve.
A minister who couldn't minister.
I was a mum who couldn't mother.
A doer who couldn't do.


It was hard, a huge adjustment for me, my family and friends and for many of you here who walked with me.   It was painful and frustrating and incredibly difficult to cope with.

More than the sight loss or the mobility issues or the pain or fatigue; it was the way I couldn't DO all the things I had once DONE that hurt.

But now I look back on that time
Now that I've adjusted and found new ways of living and being...
Now.  I am so thankful for all that God has done for me and in me.  

With lots of support, love, encouragement and prayer I'm now able to do just as much as I ever could.   But through the experience of learning to appreciate BEING rather than just DOING I've held onto the importance of being more Mary.  

To put BEING with God top of the list above DOING for God 

To value BEING who I AM for God, more than what I am ABLE to DO for Him. 


So let's get practical.
What does this actually look like?

How can we BE more Mary?

Nature connection
Well for me it means being in the natural world where I find God so easily.  That's wheelwalks in the nature reserve or being in the garden or just listening to the birds in the trees and being thankful for God's blessings on us 

I'm sure I'm not alone in that, who else loves to go into their garden or out for a walk to find peace?

It's one of the reasons this garden we're in today is such a blessing for our community - it is a place of peace and nature connection where people can come and be with God

What else can help us be more Mary…..

For me it's about having friends round for a chat even though the carpet is filthy.

Not worrying that there's no cake in the house but inviting people in anyway

It means allowing others to make their own tea when they come to see me and not feel useless because I'm not doing it.  


But more than that..
It means.... Resting with God
For me I need to rest when I'm tired.
It sounds obvious doesn't it, bur how many of us keep going even when we're exhausted?  
How many of us fight bedtime?

God doesn't want us to be worn down and exhausted.   
It's important to rest.  

And to rest with God, allowing Him to restore our energy.  

So reading the Bible, prayer, singing hymns, listening to music, mindfulness…. Whatever way you rest well with God 

And it means giving my stress and worries to God instead of holding them tight and trying to fix them myself.  It means sitting at Jesus' feet like Mary and asking for his peace.

And that time with God gives me the energy to be in ministry and to be active here and in the community.  I am still DOING. I'm back being a lot more Martha now that I've adjusted to my new normal.  

And that's important; it's about balance 
 Jesus wasn't telling Mary and Martha to stop being welcoming or caring for their neighbours

Jesus isn't telling us to withdraw from the way we help our families, friends, community or church.

Instead Jesus is telling us to WORRY LESS AND FOCUS ON HIM MORE.  To spend time BEING with God amidst all the DOING for God.

I no longer beat myself up for saying no when I need to;  I say no so that I can spend the necessary time to be with God.  

I remind myself of Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.”


And when I think of others, of you lovely lot, I value your hearts and your spirits and the way you are alongside people in your lives.  

I appreciate the wonder that is who you each ARE just as much as the amazing things you all DO.  

I see and love your inner Marys just as much as your Marthas.

And so...
My prayer for you today is that you value everything you ARE, just as God values you. 

That you are able to find time to BE with God amidst all the things you do.  

Perhaps come to this garden one day and just BE here with God in the same way we hope the community will find God when they come here.


In a minute we're going to pray, another wonderful chance to BE with God. 

Then we'll be receiving communion together with God.  We'll be sharing the best meal with God, just as the disciples shared a meal with Jesus.  An amazing time to BE with God knowing that He chooses to BE with us just as we are.  

But before that I'm just going to leave a few minutes for us to BE.  A few minutes to meet with God in this garden, in His creation, in the peace of nature surrounded by the love of each other and the prayers of our church.