July 17, 2016 "May the Force of Faith Be WIth You"

Bible lesson: Luke 10:38-42

This message was modeled after Star Wars (complete with hooded cloak and working light saber):
 
One of the Star Wars movies shows young Luke Skywalker is being instructed by Yoda.
Luke, standing on his head, is trying to practice the mental power Yoda has taught him.

He is learning to elevate friend the small robot R2D2 and some other objects.
Then all of a sudden, they all come crashing to the ground and Luke topples over too.
Yoda shakes his head and reminds Luke he has to concentrate on what he’s taught him.

Luke, you see, was anxious to be a Jedi Warrior to go and serve the Force for good.
But Yoda told him that first you must learn and be trained before you can do.
So Luke spent what seemed like an awful long time just listening and learning.
He had to do this before he could effectively serve the Force against the dark side.

In our Gospel lesson today we have a story of Jesus stopping in the house of friends.
One sister, Martha, is all about serving Jesus and worries about being a good host.
She was so focused on these many tasks, that she was distracted from anything else.
She even complains to Jesus that she is doing all the work while her sister does none.

But the sister, Mary, as it turns out, IS busy doing something herself.
She is sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to what he is saying.
Jesus then reminds Martha that the most important thing is not her busy serving.
It’s what Mary is doing - diligently listening to and taking in what Jesus says.

And then Jesus says something that is the most important part of this story.
He says what Mary has chosen to do “will not be taken away from her
Martha’s serving and doing all that being a good host entails will come and go.
But the lessons learned by Mary from Jesus will never leave her.

Jesus has given us guidance about learning and serving;…about livingand giving.
Both are things that Jesus and God have called us to do.
Both are part of what it means to be a follower of Jesus the Christ in the world.
Yet Jesus clearly tells us that, while both may be important, one is more important.

That’s because learning is foundational and even necessary for the service to happen.
Without learning Jesus’ ways and teachings, the service never happens.
Or, service happens but the strength of it runs out after a while.
The learning proceeds the serving and therefore, how we live outpaces how we give.

Sometimes people (and churches) put the cart before the horse.
They will focus so much on being Marthas, that they forget about the Mary part.
That’s to say they pay excessive amount of attention on being servants of the Lord,….
without adequately paying attention to being listeners and learners of the Lord.

Think of this saber I’m holding as service to the Lord and the light within it as faith.
Luke Skywalker was anxious and ready to act and serve on behalf of ‘the Force’,…
but his service would not be maximum effect without the light of his proper training.
Then the service of the saber would sit idly out of commission.
The light part is the faith that generates and makes possible the service of the saber.

God wants us to really have and do both,…. light up our faith,…and then put it to work.
But it all starts with listening to Jesus and letting the Spirit then lead us into service.
Without adequate listening and learning,…. that service can run out of energy and light.
I knew an auto mechanic who once told me about the many mission trips he went on.
But now, he doesn’t even attend a church for worship.
He was all anxious to serve, but it was short-lived because it was not grounded in faith.

In the end,…we need faith, not just for the sake of Christ, but for our own sakes as well.
We need faith in life to face our struggles and sickness,…as well as to serve others.
We need faith to accept that we are forgiven,…as we try to forgive others.
And faith to accept that we won’t live forever,…as we help others to do the same

When we went to visit our friend Daisy last week, what we found was a picture of faith.
Yes,….a picture of someone who is dying from cancer.
Who had lost weight;…hair completely gone,…. and a sort of jaundice color to her skin.
But we also saw someone who was at peace with whatever happened to her.

Now Daisy was always a good servant of the Lord and did many good works, both in church and in her personal life as a teacher, mother and follower of Jesus.
But Daisy went to worship each week,…went to bible studies,..took her faith seriously.
That listening to Jesus transferred into her being a good servant for others in her life.
But it also, and more importantly, is now serves her as she nears the end of life.

Service is all well and good and being a Martha can be a good thing.
But Mary had the first good idea - to sit quietly and listen to and learn from Jesus.
Listening to Jesus leads to faith, which leads to little acts of service in everyday life
But Mary’s partthe  listening and learning part,…is the horse that pulls the cart.
The light that helps to pull the world out from the dark side,…and pulls us towards God.

May the force of faith in Jesus Christ, be with you.

Amen