Rev. Sharla Maliff on Mary and Martha, We vs. Them

July 17, 2016 – Pentecost 9, Year C   Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable to you, O Lord.  Amen.

It’s been a really tough week in the world with the devastating attack on Bastille Day in Nice, France, to the uprising and coup attempt in Turkey.  Please continue to pray for those communities, for peace and comfort, for the knowledge that God is with those amid their grief, fear, and uncertainty.

It’s also been a rough week within our National Church.  You may or may not know, General Synod was held this past week: the most hotly debated subject was the marriage cannon, a resolution to allow Anglican clergy to marry all eligible couples regardless of gender.

Late Monday night, the votes were cast and needing a 2/3 majority vote in each house, Bishops, Clergy AND Laity, it was determined that the motion to revise the canon failed in the house of the Clergy by one vote.  Late that night our Bishops sent out a letter apologizing for the hurt caused to members of the LGTBQ2+ community. They expressed the intention to authorize a liturgy for such unions once guidelines were in place, because a diocesan bishop may exercise this episcopal authority since the current marriage canon “does not contain either a definition of marriage or a specific prohibition . . . .”

On Tuesday morning, when the results were officially released, and examined, an error was noted.  The “clicker” voting system had failed to be as accurate as it should have, and votes were missed, and one vote, from a cleric was recorded in the wrong house, changing the outcome of the vote.  The resolution was then declared by the Primate to have passed.  Our Bishops issued a follow-up letter, confirming the previous statement, and accepting that “we . . .are committed to ongoing consultation as required by this resolution . . .  We will consult across the diocese as we seek to be faithful to our commitment to all voices and consistent with our initial statement.”

No matter how you feel about the changes to the canon or what you feel the impact will be in 3 years should it pass the second reading, what the immediate impact of all of this is, is simply a whole lot of people, members of this church, hurting and confused.

You see, we tend to take issues in our world and create an “us and them” mentality.  You’re on my side or you’re not.  I’m right and you’re wrong.  And we make those on the other side our enemy.

If you want to consider that further, I’d like to refer you to our readings last week, the parable of the Good Samaritan and how we are to treat those we deem to be the ‘other’.

This week though, we have the story of Mary and Martha.  One busy doing what she feels is right, preparing a meal, offering hospitality to the Lord, and the other, also doing what she feels is right, sitting at Jesus feet, soaking up each and every word.

This ‘one against the other’ shows up again this story when Martha comes flying from the kitchen, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself?  Tell her then to help me!”

It sounds a lot like, “Lord, do you not care that this person doesn’t follow your rules like I do.  Tell them to behave like me!  I’m right …… right?”

Jesus response is what is most interesting.  He’s not worried about who is doing the “right” thing. He’s not worried about how busy Martha is…. he is worried about her state of mind.  “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things.”  Jesus isn’t concerned about how busy Martha is, but rather that in her business, she has become worried and distracted by what others are, or are not doing.

Interestingly, Mary, who is sitting at Jesus feet, doesn’t seem to be worried or distracted that Martha isn’t sitting there too, that her sister is in the kitchen.

Coming to church, coming together with all of our brothers and sisters in Christ is a time for us to lay down all our worries, to put aside our distractions, and to be who we as individuals are called to be, individual parts of a single body.

We know that not one of us is alike.  We know that we are each blessed with different gifts.  We know that we are each called to use those gifts and differences for 2 things… to love God and to love our neighbour.  It really doesn’t matter what side of the debate you are on… and this goes for any debate within the church:  it was, and still is in some places, a debate about women being ordained, it was, and still is in some places, about when one could and should receive communion, it was and still is in some places, about BCP or BAS, it is, and will continue to be, about sexuality and marriage, but no matter what you believe is the “right” way to follow Christ, you are encouraged to live your life in a way that is faithful to who you are, who YOU were created to be AND you are also encouraged to not let the worry and distraction about how others are doing that cloud your ability to worship and praise God as we are all called to do.

Remember that while we are all created uniquely, we have all been given different gifts, we have also ALL been created in God’s image, and we are all being as faithful as we can be in the ways we see fit.

In the end, God is the judge, and will decide not who is right or wrong, but who has been faithful.  Do not be worried or distracted, God’s got it under control.  Instead just be faithful in the best way that you know how as we continue the journey we’re all on.  Amen.

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