Let me paint a picture for all of you of my last week. As you know I was away to Portland to run a half marathon and then on to Seattle to see my parents. I flew in late Monday night and needed to be early on Tuesday as I needed to connect with Pastor Rob before he left on vacation. So I had my head full of many details of church and home and on top of that I had scheduled for Tuesday a meeting with someone from the synod office for 11:30 which seemed like a good idea weeks ago but on Tuesday- not so much. I was on my way out to this meeting and I was running late, feeling like I didn’t really have enough time for this meeting and mentally going through all the things that I had to do for the week-including writing this sermon! I was busy, harried and focused on my own stuff. Then this caught my eye sitting on the table by the front door. Now being a former teacher anything with paint and glue immediately captures my attention. So I stopped for a closer look. I put down my purse and keys-even though I was running late- and really looked at these hand print flowers, the rainbow, the sun and the beautiful words of gratitude from the children of Brighter Future Learning Center. Then I took it to show Pastor Rob.
Now I don’t know if any of you have noticed but we have had some wonderfully meaningful, deep, thought provoking and Holy Spirit filled conversations here at LCM this summer about unity, worship, God’s mission and our participation in that mission. Many of those conversations have been fruitful, Christ centered and mission centered but some of them have been a bit distracted and busy with details. I am the first to admit that I easily get distracted by details and can lose the big picture. On Tuesday morning, Pastor Rob and I had just had a long staff meeting about many details here at LCM and my head was full from this conversation. Then I saw this poster. Just like that I was jolted into the central thing that we do here at LCM-love and serve God and the world. Our focus on this is crucial and while we don’t always get a tangible sign of that fact, on Tuesday we did.
Two weeks ago we opened our doors to this daycare not knowing if we had all the space or equipment that they would need. We didn’t have time for any real preparation and just had to go with the flow…… as did they. But we talked with them regularly, checking in and communicating with them, the Mad Science camp people who also use our space and the Green Mountain preschool director. We most certainly had some actions to take but we also had a lot of listening to do in order to be hospitable to all the people using the LCM building. We didn’t get hung up on the details but just moved forward knowing that the most important thing is that we provided care for these children and families in our community and communicated clearly that we are here for them.
The daycare didn’t care if we were the perfect space or not but were just glad that we were here and willing to help. LCM’s value to Brighter Future Learning Center families was not just in what we did, but simply in who we are in the Green Mountain community. And they are grateful for our presence and we are grateful for theirs. It’s been wonderful hearing children on the playground, getting to know the staff and parents and having the building not just full but full of life.
“Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing,” says Jesus in verses 41-42. Popular to contrary belief about this story of the two sisters, Jesus is not scolding Martha for her tasks, her focus on gracious hospitality or her attention to detail-this is all part and parcel of how God created Martha and is good. Jesus is not elevating Mary over Martha-no in the Good Samaritan story last week we hear Jesus say, “Go and do likewise.” Jesus is clear that perpetual belly button gazing isn’t ok either. But Jesus is concerned that in all of Martha’s busyness and frustration with what Mary is doing or not doing that Martha is losing sight of the big picture-her relationship with God and others.
It’s very easy to lose sight of our relationship with God in our lives. We are told by our culture that working hard at our jobs, having a nice house for entertaining, or money for good food, that these things give us value to others. What can we offer someone else that is good enough? We work so hard to keep up the house, for instance, for visitors-cleaning it, pulling weeds or mowing the yard that when we do see our neighbor we often only have time for a head nod and a quick hi! What if we stopped and really asked our neighbors how they are? One of the lessons we all learned in Chicago was the importance of stopping and talking to someone instead of rushing by them. To hear someone else’s story, to share your own experiences and to pray with them and declare that God is present is powerful, connects us to one another through Jesus Christ and pulls us out of our own lives to walk alongside another child of God. Many of these people we talked to in Chicago did not have a job or a place of their own to live-yet they have deep value as a human created by God.
Or how often do we even as a community of God ( and I am talking about all churches) get distracted by the details of keeping up a building, making sure that we have certain policies in place, what kind of worship to hold and when, what color the carpets should be, what snacks should be offered and by whom, and a myriad of other details that we think gives us value to others when they walk in the door and we begin to focus on that as the most important thing. Is everything just right so that people will think we are worth getting to know? Now please hear that thinking of all of these details is not a bad thing-for it most certainly is not!!! But all have the potential of distracting and pulling us away from the need of one thing-to love The Lord your God with all of your heart, soul and mind and to love your neighbor as yourself-to offer real and authentic relationship to whomever God sends to us and whomever God has us encounter in the community. To welcome each other and all people regardless of what they say and do.
Reminders to get past the tasks-even good, missional tasks such as all the ways we serve our community here at LCM—- and move to forming relationships can feel risky, insecure and vulnerable in comparison to just doing an activity with familiar people in a familiar way. Jesus calls us time and time again to move out of our comfort zone to walk with those we know and those we don’t.
Jesus understands that it is easy for us to get stuck in the details of life and forget the one thing we need-God who loves us for who we are and not for what we do. I can get caught up in the doing and I need to be reminded every day that I have value not for the things that I do or say but for being a child of God. God wants you to be reminded of this fact as well-you are valued and loved simply by being who God created you to be. Jesus died on the cross and was raised again not for what we might do or say but for who we already are—-God’s beloved children. I need to be reminded of this over and over again and to hear Jesus voice saying, “Brigette, Brigette, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing.” Amen
Reflection stations-written prayers, font, card stock cross to write the things that distract you from God in your life to take home.