Sermon for 6th Sunday After Pentecost – 07-17-2022
Psalm 52; Amos 8:1-12; Colossians 1:15-28; Luke 10:38-42
In our Psalm the tongue is referred to in a vivid image, and is viewed as a major source of evil in the human experience. That this is clearly a figure of speech is seen by the transition from the image of the tongue to that of a person. Words are the source of much evil and misery. Without regard for God, humans can become so wicked they boast of evil, loving it rather than good. No society or philosophy can point to the goodness or progress of human nature. We remain as people in biblical times as prone to lies, deceit, and evil. Only God’s grace and salvation can rescue us from becoming this type of person, and that is because we regularly confess our sins and honestly seek forgiveness for them. Expressing anger against enemies to God may calm the soul and bring trust; but expressing it to the enemies only deepens hatred. Beloved wickedness and wealth may last a season, but they are still too temporary to merit our trust and allegiance. Only the true God who loves us forever merits such trust.
Our lesson from Amos is directed towards that which we seldom hear from the pulpit anymore, instead we select which evil we are going to stand for. We are reminded in Amos that God sees sin as sin, period. There is no off-white sin or a lesser sin, there is only sin and God was telling His people (and also us) that He will not overlook it. Sin can become such a way of life that we have no consciousness of wrongdoing. This brings about a result of continued, blatant sin. An impaired conscience is always anxious to engage in injustices against its acquaintances. To do nothing bout injustice is sin just as to cause injustice to the poor by misusing our wealth is sin. A sad time had come and continues until this day that the sabbath held no respect by the people. They could hardly wait to end their “worship” so they could get back to their economic exploitation. Today, in the aftermath of the recent pandemics, we see prices higher for smaller packages of profits. Gas prices rising on gas that was processed two years ago and will go higher because drilling is limited or stopped, and no matter what you purchase, it will cost you a sizable increase over what it was before the pandemics. This is nothing more than price gouging and of course, the hardest people hit are the least fortunate that cannot afford the increases. Serving God must be top priority for a society seeking justice. We must help people become self-supporting not support ourselves by buying their labor cheaply. Without honest market and labor practices, we cannot please God or build a stable society with ethical practices, that meet everyone’s needs.
From Colossians Paul showed human bodies nor matter in inherently evil. God did not create evil things, for His creation was very good. Christ existed as coequal and coexistent with the Father. He was the personal Creator by whom the world came into being. Everything was originated with Him. The world that has become marred and divided with be restored to a unity only as it finds its center in Christ Jesus; He is the Source and therefore, as authority over all creation. Jesus is the source and the power that sustains it. He gives purpose and stability wit non-Christian viewpoints that either say material things are evil and valueless or think the material world is all that exists and so is all important. Christians view material things as good and valuable if used to fulfill God’s holy purposes for money and possessions and to reach the lost world with the intent of witnessing the message of salvation through Christ alone. The church has only one position o honor, which is permanently filled by Christ.
Sin and guilt separate us from God, the source of peace. Reconciliation bring peace and order into creation has been performed through Jesus’ act of redemption. True peace with God is found through Him. God’s reconciliation through Christ is all inclusive. It is vertical, reconciliation between persons and God; and horizontal, reconciliation between persons and persons and between nature and God. As all humankind and all nature descended from good in the fall of Adam, so all persons and nature itself are restored in the saving work of Christ. As Christians, we all called to evangelize the world around us; the call to witness makes us servants of the gospel, not its master. Serving means laboring with all the energy God gives to bring Christ’s eternal hope to all people. Christ suffering adequately atone for sin. The church continues to suffer so all the world may know of and benefit from Christ’s atonement. Thus, we rejoice in the knowledge that our suffering allows us to reach out to others with the love of Jesus Christ. To be in Christ is to to have Christ us. Life in Christ is the goal toward which God pointed creation from the very beginning.
Finally, our Gospel from Luke 10 on the surface seems to be about two servants of Christ that lived with their brother Lazarus Jesus loved to stop there if He was close to Jerusalem. Martha was one who seemed to be worried that she needed help in the kitchen and her sister, Mary, was allowed to be sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to what He was talking about. In truth, both women were faithful servants and spiritual in their own rights. Mary was accepted in the room with the room, apparently being accepted as one who understood what was being said and what it all meant. Martha bursts into the room and asks: “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” Jesus answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Beloved, Jesus did not follow His culture. He encouraged women to use their interests and skills for spiritual growth. Several principles emerge from His relationships with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus contrary to Jewish practice. ) Jesus taught and accepted a woman as one able to understand the meaning of His message; 2) even though food is necessary to physical life, excessive attention to housework may keep a person from experiencing even more important spiritual food; 3) Jesus found a refuge in a home even though conflicting feelings divided the family members; 4) Jesus taught some of His most powerful truths in a family grief experience; and 5) Jesus experienced human sorrow even though He planned to use this experience o teach others about the power of God.
So no, you are not a Martha, and no, you are not a Mary. All of us are both of them, and neither, for love requires us sometimes to strive and other times to be still. These are not separate paths, merely the varied landscape of the single Way back home.
And yet if, in your search for yourself, you still feel a longing for that one definitive identifier, that purest definition of your soul, let it be the one name that calls each of us back to our deepest truth—Jesus. You are a follower of Jesus. A servant of Jesus. A lover of Jesus. Are you willing to follow Him back to yourself? Will you not forget Him, for as long as you live?