Genesis 18: 1-15
Colossians 1: 21-28
St. Luke 10: 38-42
Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen.
As a child, there was a humorous church song I grew up loving. The song goes as such,
A certain man held a feast
On his fine estate in town.
He laid a festive table,
He wore a wedding gown,
He sent out invitations
To his neighbors far and wide,
But when the meal was ready
Each of them replied:
I cannot come,
I cannot come to the banquet, Don’t trouble me now,
I have married a wife,
I have bought me a cow,
I have fields and commitments, That cost a pretty sum,
Pray hold me excused
I cannot come.
The master rose up in anger
Called his servants by name, said Go into town, fetch the blind and the lame
Fetch the peasant and the pauper For this I have willed:
My banquet must be crowded, And my table must be filled.
When all the poor had assembled There was still room to spare, So the master demanded:
Go search everywhere.
Search the highways and the byways, And tell them to come in
My table must be filled
Before the banquet can begin.
Now God has written a lesson For the rest of mankind:
If we’re slow in responding
He may leave us behind.
He’s preparing a banquet
For that great and glorious day, When the Lord and Master calls us Be certain not to say:
Now this song is in reference to a parable that Jesus gave in Luke 14, a man held a great banquet and invited many, but those invited all gave excuses as to why they could not come such as I
just bought a field and must see to it, or I just bought five yoke of oxen and must examine them, or I just married. So the man then invited everyone else to fill his halls to include the poor and crippled and homeless for they were more worthy than the ones who gave excuses.
Now the point of the parable and this humorous song is to highlight that we do live busy lives, and then asks does our business get in the way of us acknowledging God?
Now this is not in reference to those who are being forced not to go to church nor those who willfully choose not to go to church for some mundane reason, but merely in reference to those whose life is so busy and whose minds are so troubled by various important issues that they fail to see the truly most important thing in front of them.
The man who is hosting the banquet is God and the banquet itself is salvation, heaven, and all the fruits of the Spirit; a fine feast indeed. God comes to us presenting an invitation to his feast, desiring his halls to be filled, thus in the end all are invited, but not all will accept the invitation. And the ones in this parable found in Luke are not turning down God’s invitation out of malice but simple because their minds are preoccupied with other issues. They are too busy.
I can imagine a wife who is ragged tire between cleaning the house and taking care of several young kids or a husband earnestly and furiously filing taxes feeling his head about to burst with all the calculations. A man with a camera crew rings the
doorbell to their home, they answer, and the man congratulates them on winning an exorbitantly huge sum of many and all they have to do is sign this legal document acknowledging receipt of such winnings. Only the wife and husband close the door to the man and crew. They are too busy for this salesman’s nonsense,
not realizing that that was not a salesman and they just denied acceptance of a fortune, for they have a house and kids or taxes to take care of. Hopefully in such a circumstance the spouse rises up out of their busy estate and realize what just transpired and runs to the man and his crew, apologize, and willingly receives this gracious gift that has no strings attached to it.
It is this very kind of business that grips Martha in our Gospel, but the business she experiences is out of love toward her guest Jesus Christ. I can imagine Mary and Martha getting everything prepared upon hearing Jesus was coming over, but as soon as Jesus arrives, Martha, being a good steward of hospitality, maintained the serving element of being a good host. Mary on the other hand halted whatever she was doing in preparation for the coming Lord and decided to give Jesus company and listened to him. Martha was distracted with much serving, Mary was distracted with the Word of God.
I can imagine a guest shows up at a couple’s home and the husband sits down with the guest in the living room and strikes up a conversation. The wife on the other hand prepares the dinner table and gets mad at her husband for not lending a hand and tells the guest to order her husband to help her with cleaning the dining room. A not too common spoof I see on family comedy shows, and always a source of laughter when such tropes pop up.
I can just imagine the guest saying, “Whereas I’m flattered that you wish the home to be in tiptop shape for my arrival, I’m already here.”
In the military, we call this lacking situational awareness. Say the President is coming to your base, for colloquial purposes let us say that is Camp Perry. You, a member of the military, would obviously want to make sure that the camp is prepared for the coming President. I can imagine all the forces present in a busy rush to make sure every nook and cranny is spotless, every rock in its proper location, and every lightbulb new. When the President comes, what do you do? You welcome him, you guide him, you keep him company, etc. You don’t leave him by himself. And when he enters a room of Soldiers, what’s the expectation? Do you continue cleaning the room, completely ignoring the President? No! You go to attention, salute the President, and arrange yourself to listen to him. You are in the process of cleaning the barracks and the President walks in, do you keep on cleaning or do you stop what you are doing and welcome the President? Situational Awareness would compel you to stop what you are doing and place your complete focus and respect on the Commander in Chief. If Private Snuffy was to ignore the President then he will receive a right talking to by his sergeant later on.
So if this is the case with the President, the highest ranking person in America, what about Jesus Christ Himself, who will forever far outrank any office? Between Mary and Martha, when it comes to their guest Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, the one who acted appropriately was Mary. It is very good that Martha wanted to make sure the house was prepared for Jesus, and in a
similar manner we should all constantly prepare ourselves for the coming Lord, but situational awareness would tell you that the Lord isn’t coming but is already here. You prepare for the coming Lord, acting like Martha, but as soon as he arrives, you drop what you are doing and place your complete focus and Jesus, acting like Mary.
Another imagery that comes to my mind, something I grew up with and most families may have also experienced. You are getting ready to go to church. Everyone in the house is putting on their best Sunday clothes, prepping their hair, making sure they smell good, etc. Then whoever is the timekeeper looks at the time and says to the household that it is time to leave. If we wish to be at church on time we will go now. One person stops what they are doing and hurries to the door; hair still unkempt and smelling like last night’s campfire. Another, desiring to go to church but wants to be presentable, does not leave the bathroom but instead says wait up I’m still getting ready. Which one is too busy and anxious over things that are not necessary, and which one has chosen the good portion? The messy one is Mary. The one still preparing is Martha.
Now the outward motions isn’t the only thing concerned here, outward business and appearance that is, but the inner motions should likewise be considered. How many times are we so busy that our hearts and mind become anxious and troubled over the cares of the world? So busy that is with things that are fleeting, that come and will eventually go? How often do we just stop and reflect on the one and only thing that is not fleeting nor brings with it anxiety?
Jesus Christ who already died on the cross to forgive us of our sins comes to us who believe in Him as a source of peace and comfort and righteousness. Everything else is fleeting, but this salvation which comes from Christ is constant. Why be concerned with things that cause you trouble now and tomorrow will be forgotten? Why not be concerned with things that bring joy eternal? Ah, but I already have too much on my plate. I have a new Job and can’t come to communion. I bought a new house and can’t come to worship. I have mouths to feed and thus can’t be concerned with adding one more thing to my busy schedule. Please hold me excused, I cannot come.
I understand that we all have busy lives, so I’ll end with this: What’s truly more important, that which comes and go and only gives you anxiety, or the Lord and Savior who is indeed present and his bounteous feast, such as communion, that provides all things good and can never be taken away?
Let us pray,
Dear Heavenly Father, as we prepare ourselves for your coming Son, desiring Him always in our lives, provide us with the situational awareness to recognize His presence. In your most holy name we pray; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.