July 17, 2016

Links of Interest/Biblography:
Rex Hunt
Textweek.com
Left Behind and Loving it
Working Preacher – July 17 2016
Dear Working Preacher
At the Edge of the Enclosure
Progressive Involvement
Modern Metanoia
Taming the Elephant

Worship Outline:
Hymn     Be Thou My Vision                                               VU 642
Words of Welcome and Announcements
Centering & Lighting the Christ Candle & Love Candle

Hymn     My Love Colours Outside the Lines                  MV 138

 Call to Worship
One: We come together to celebrate God’s presence among us.
All: We come together to share our abundance.
One:  We come together to offer love.
All: We come together to worship.

Opening Prayer (Rex Hunt)
Abiding God of the morning, the afternoon, the evening,
grant us the joy of feeling ourselves
a part of your vast magnificence,
your all-encompassing love.
May it be so.

Hymn     Take My Life                                             VU 506

Mary & Martha
Readings: Luke 10: 38-42
Behold the Face of Christ                                                   MV 114
Martha’s Anxiety

Minute for Mission

Offering Invitation
The creative surrounds us.  Let’s take some time to give from our abundance.

Offering

Offertory               What Can I Do?                                    MV 191

Offering Prayer
May these gifts, those given through PAR be sparks of creativity in the work towards the good of the whole. Amen.

Prayer Music:       Come To My Heart                              VU 661

Prayers of the People & Prayer of Jesus
During the Prayer of Jesus, you are invited to use the translation and language of your choice.  A variety of translations and expressions of the Prayer of Jesus (also known as The Lord’s Prayer) can be found in Voices United pages 921-927.

Commissioning and Benediction

Musical Blessing  May God’s Sheltering Wings             MV 214

Reflection:

There is a force within
that gives you life-
Seek that.
In your body there lies
a priceless jewel –
Seek that.
Oh, wandering Sufi.
If you are in search
of the greatest treasure,
don’t look outside,
Look within, and seek That.

-Rumi 1207-1273
Trans. Jonathan Star

The story of Mary and Martha or Martha and Mary isn’t a story of service verses education. It’s a story about letting social anxiety get the best of us. Let me explain. Martha was doing what was expected of her. She was hustling and bustling about, being the gracious hostess. Normally Mary, her sister would be there to help her. Anyone who has a relationship with their sisters, similar to the relationship I have with mine, can tell you, pulling off a party is much easier with your sisters. But Martha is finding herself overwhelmed and when she goes off to find Mary, she finds her sister has flaked on her and is sitting, listening to Jesus. Mary is doing the opposite of what is expected of her.
As a woman, Mary wouldn’t have been included in the teaching time. As a sister, she was needed to help with preparations. But Mary didn’t seem to have any qualms about not doing what was expected of her. My hunch is that Martha wanted to sit and listen too, but because she was so focused on doing what was expected of her, that she couldn’t get out of the kitchen. Pulling off being the perfect hostess isn’t as easy as it seems. In fact, you rarely get to enjoy the party yourself, you are so busy. If Martha hadn’t been so wrapped up in the perceived success of the gathering, she might have been able to enjoy it a bit more. But that’s what social anxiety is: worrying so much about what others think of you that it keeps you from enjoying life. It’s the worrying about things that don’t matter that Jesus was warning her about.
I was surprised to learn that many medieval paintings of Martha portrayed her as captor over a dragon. Martha wields control over the dragon with her girdle. That’s quite the symbolism for taming the anxious mind! I find this idea of a dragon representing the mind interesting. In the yogic and Tibetan tradition, learning to meditate is referred to as ‘taming the elephant’. There is a traditional drawing that accompanies this description. It starts with a monk chasing an elephant, which is being led by a monkey up the mountain. As the journey progresses, the monk eventually closes the gap and becomes the one leading the elephant, near the end they rest together and by the end the monk is riding the elephant. The monkey goes from leading the elephant, to following the elephant, to following the monk, to leaving the picture all together. The elephant and the monkey go from being cloudy and dark to being clear. The stormy, rocking surroundings at the bottom of the mountain have cleared by the top of the mountain. It’s a beautiful picture that demonstrates that with practice and dedication, the unimaginable is possible, but first we must tame the elephant.
In our scripture today, Jesus is telling Martha to tame her elephant. He’s telling her to not let her perceptions of what anyone “should” be doing keep her from doing what she enjoys. This is a message that every church needs to be reminded of. In the last 10 years, if I had a dollar for every time I heard someone refer to the congregation as the people who are here every Sunday, sun, snow or shine, not only would my student loans be paid off, but we’d be making major headway on our mortgage too. Somewhere along the way we’ve gotten stuck and forgotten that church is more than just Sunday mornings. While for some people, sitting and listening is what feeds them, for others it is going out and doing the work. Each person needs to choose for themselves which is more important for them, how they will live out their understanding of church. Perhaps you are a Mary, faithfully attending each worship, listening and understanding. Perhaps you are a Martha, working for the good of the whole, offering your talents and skills. Perhaps you are a Mary, counter-cultural and shaking things up with your privilege. Perhaps you are a Martha, doing what’s expected of you, pulling your share and maybe more. If you are a Mary, are you happy? Do you feel your spiritual life is fulfilled? If you are a Martha, are you happy? Do you feel your spiritual life is fulfilled? What is it that you are seeking? Is there a tricky monkey that is leading your elephant? What can we as a community do to ensure that all of the Martha’s and Mary’s feel valued and appreciated?

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