July 21st, 2019
“Sit at the Feet of Jesus”
Yesterday marked the 50th anniversary of the first landing on the moon for humankind. That iconic phrase “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” I think resonates with us and is symbolic of one of our greatest collective human achievements. As I listened to the reports this weekend I remembered going to the space museum at Cape Canaveral. One of the things that struck me was that while the space shuttles had a real solid look to them, like a tank or a truck, the Apollo capsules really looked like tin cans and I remember thinking how amazing it was they actually got people into space and back again in those things! I say this because there is something in our makeup where we like to work. Not that we do not enjoy our vacation time but rolling up our sleeves and getting to work often brings out the best in us and it is a comfortable place for us. I’ve seen that here as I have talked to many of you as you have moved into retirement. It’s an anxious moment for you, you don’t know what it is going to be like and often I hear questions around “what will I do with all my time?”. Now it seems you figure out what to do but there is an angst that comes with not working. From a scriptural perspective we have a couple of thoughts on work. The one is that it is a part of the “curse” of the fall is that we labour and toil and yet in other parts of scripture we see that we are to enjoy the fruits of our labour and that we are given good work to do from God. All of this is to say that there seems to be something natural about work to us and we do like having a significant project to accomplish, whether it be something personal or something of great significance like a lunar landing. It plays out in our collective lives of faith which is a part of who we are at St. Simon’s. As I often mention, we are about three things; spirituality, community and mission and mission on one level is just another word for work! So we do work as a church and if we hear your profession is teaching, you will often be asked “have you ever thought about teaching Sunday School?” If you are in management or finance you might have been asked about being a warden or the treasurer. And if you are a contractor, “do you know we have a property committee?” Always with the add on – “it won’t take too much of your time!”
Work is at the heart of our gospel this morning where we have a little insight into Jesus’ life when he goes to Mary and Martha’s home. He goes to his friend’s house, we know this because Mary and Martha are sisters to Lazarus his friend he raised from the dead. While there Mary is sitting at his feet and taking what Jesus is sharing and Martha is busy in the kitchen getting things done. This upsets Martha and while it does not say it here I am pretty sure that this is not the first time that Mary and Marth had this particular disagreement. It reads, well at least to me, that Martha is trying to get Jesus on her side. Then much to Martha’s surprise Jesus side with Mary! In fact not only does he side with Mary he says that she has chosen the better part which will not be taken away from her. These are hard words for a rector to hear, because as mentioned before we do a significant amount of mission as a church and in order to do that we all have to chip in and give of our time and talents. Further, I think there is something in our DNA as Anglicans where we are really good at coming together on Sundays for our worship, in building community and in sharing in our common mission. I think we are less prone to focus on personal spiritual growth and the truth is that according to Jesus here today growing in his words, sitting at his feet and deepening our relationship with God is the higher calling and is something we neglect to our own peril.
So I would like to share my journey with you. As a minister often people think that spiritual growth comes easily to me. That is not the truth I struggle as well. I am a good worker, I like to get things done and I have a sense of what we should be doing as a church. That said, I also know that I need my devotional and prayer life. Like many of you have shared with me, this does not come naturally or easily. I have tried many things in the past. The daily office, set times of prayer and scripture readings, all in one variation or another. They seem to work for a while and then I fall away. This changed for me recently when I began a new approach. I partnered with someone I know, and we made a commitment to read one chapter of the Bible a day and to then discuss it with each other via “WhatsApp”. You know what? For me this works. It makes me delve into the scripture deeper, it prompts me to prayer and it keeps me accountable to someone else for my devotionals. Now I am not saying that there is a one-size-fits-all approach but what I am saying is that I found something which worked for me. Something which made prayer and scripture reading regular in my life and I have noticed a change. So what I am saying to all of us, is that we need to make the spiritual a regular part of our daily lives. We all need to find something which works for us and makes prayer and scripture reading a regular part of our daily lives. So I would challenge all of us to make the spiritual a priority and to take Mary’s way and spend some time at the feet of Jesus.
Thanks be to God. Amen.