The following was sent out on Sunday, March 15, as a way to worship at home, as we had suspended in-person worship at the church.
Good morning friends, and welcome to this week’s worship.
Please join me in taking a deep breath!
I invite you to CLICK HERE to hear our Centering Song as you become fully present in the space that you are in.
Let’s join together in a word of prayer.
Loving God, things feel strange right now. Things are not the way we are used to them being. Many of us feel nervous or frustrated and we long for the comfort of your presence. Be with us in this new way of worship even though we are in a different place. Hold us in your loving arms that we might feel comfort and safety; and open our hearts and our minds to experiencing you in new ways. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
So, as we have been asking the past few weeks, I wonder. “How is your soul?” Now it wouldn’t surprise me at all if you said that your soul is anxious or frustrated or unsure because there is a lot going on in our world right now. As you know, we are trying to keep everyone healthy and safe, so we have taken the advice of our denomination and of local community leaders, and we have suspended worship for today. We do not know how long this will last, but in the words of our moderator, Steve Mankavech, “Let take a deep breath and take it one week at a time!”
Now, I am a strong believer that in every cloud there is a silver lining, in every challenge, there is a lesson to be learned, and that even in the darkest moments, there is a flickering light that shines on our path. Friends, as we are in this time of somewhat isolation when we are called to refrain from gathering in large groups and make sure that we keep social distance, we are unable to meet for in-person worship. We are unable to gather for meetings and do the work that we normally do at the church. But one thing that gives us is time. It helps us with our busy schedules and our need to run from one thing to the next.
Folks, there are many reasons for our busy lives but, no matter the season or the activities or the responsibilities that we have, God longs for relationship with us. God longs to have our full attention in prayer and in worship.
Today’s story, the story of Mary and Martha, gives us a wonderful example of this. Now it’s easier for some of us to relate to Martha, but I also know that there are some Marys in the crowd. Martha was busy! She was busy taking care of all of the details and making sure that everyone was okay. Yes, what she was doing was for good. She was trying to help others, but she didn’t know where to draw the line. Her busy-ness caused her to miss out on what was important.
As Scripture reads:
“Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her,“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away fromLuke 10:38-42 (NRSV)
Can you imagine having the faith that Mary had and resting at the feet of Jesus without feeling anxious about what was left undone? Well, I wonder. Now that we are being asked to stay home and not attend in-person worship and meeting, how will that change our lives? This week we won’t have our third-grade tours or coffee connection, and we won’t need volunteers to help with the coffeehouse on Friday night. What if we used that time to sit at the feet of Jesus? What if we used that time worshiping at home? Perhaps reading scripture or listening to music, praying or connecting with God on a new and different level?
Last week in our spiritual practice, we learned about the practice of worship. Now I had no idea that we were going to have so many opportunities to use the practice of worship in new ways, but maybe that is just what some of us need: time to step away from the busyness and to slow down so that we can experience those Mary moments in our lives.
Our new spiritual practice for this week is the practice of fasting. Now don’t worry, I’m not going to ask you to stop eating, but I am going to ask you to pay attention to the things in your everyday life that keep you from spending time with God. Many of us are like Martha, and we run all day trying to take care of all of the detail. I know that our lives are busy and things need to be accomplished, but what if we use this time at home to see what it’s like to be a Mary and to spend time sitting at the feet of Jesus, concentrating on our faith?
You might think about reading through one of the gospels over the next few weeks, remembering the story of Jesus as we prepare for the coming of holy week. If you’re not much of a reader and you have Netflix at home, there are four movies, the gospel of Matthew, the gospel of Mark, the gospel of Luke, and the gospel of John, each of which tells the gospel story through different eyes.
Or maybe you want to be more creative and you what to take some time writing your own faith story. Take some time thinking about who first brought you to church? When do you first remember learning about Jesus? What moment in your faith moved you the most? How and when do you know that you are in the presence of God? It could also be a wonderful opportunity to talk to your family about these things too. Friends, we have time to think and explore our faith, so let’s be creative.
Our scripture today ends with these words… “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Friends, we are in the midst of a lot of anxiety and fear of the unknown, but we have a choice. We can be nervous and anxious like Martha, or we can turn off the news for a little while and sit at the feet of Jesus like Mary. The truth is, we sometimes need to say “no” to some things so that we can say “yes” to others. That’s what our spiritual practice of fasting is all about this week.
Friends as we step out into this new way of worshiping and fasting and experiencing God outside of the sanctuary, feel free to share a little bit of what you are doing in the comments for this post or on our Facebook page. Obviously, it’s not like connecting in person. It’s not like giving a hug during the passing of the peace or chatting at coffee hour, but it can be a way to stay connected while we are physically apart.
I would also ask you to call your neighbors and your fellow parishioners to check in on them, and let us know if there is anything that you need. But more than anything, know that you are loved!!
Let’s join together in prayer:
Gracious God, be with us today and throughout this season of uncertainty. Help us to use the time that we have at home to sit at Your feet and to simply be in the moment. Remind us to breathe, and to take one week at a time as we strive to find balance in our lives, that we might be filled with joy as we enjoy the kingdom of God in our midst! We pray for those who are sick and all of the medical staff and first responders that are working so hard to keep us safe, but more than anything, we give thanks for your unconditional love and the assurance that you are with us no matter what we face. All this we pray in Jesus’ holy and blessed name. Amen.