Sunday, July 22, 2007

Sermon: Pentecost 8 - Year C

If you know me, you know that I don’t like taking vacations. At least not extended ones. I just need a day or two with a couple good books or a few Family Guy DVDs and I’m ready to be back in the office.

While a vacation is supposed to be relaxing, rejuvenating, and restorative, to me it descends into boredom…and the blahs.

Last year I found the week long ChristCare Training more energizing than a week at my in-laws (due respect to my wife’s parents).

And last summer I found the time in Mexico with our young people more relaxing than spending a week in Ontario enjoying my mom’s cooking (sorry mom).

I just get bored if I’m not doing something.

So, for me, it’s not about being virtuous, or claiming to have a superhuman work ethic. I don’t stand in moral judgment over those who actually LIKE to get away and go camping or whatever. I just find that twiddling my thumbs for four weeks a year causes more me stress than it relieves.

And I know I’m going to get hassled for saying this. I always do. People are rightly concerned that if I don’t take care of myself and my family I won’t have anything to give in my job as your pastor.

I know that clergy and church worker burnout has been a concern for Bishop Mayan. Other than him looking out for the well-being of those under his care, he’s also looking out for the future of our church. His fear is that people won’t be interested in ordained ministry if they keep seeing pastors quitting because of their work load.

It’s not just church workers that are being strained. I’ll bet each one of you can tell some pretty harrowing stories of 60 hour weeks and deserted families. Just as most people are working longer hours, there is a small cottage industry of resources helping us overworked souls from collapsing under the weight of our industriousness.

Lately, I’ve noticed a lot books being published on the neglected art of Sabbath keeping. This has nothing to do about whether we should stop in at Wal-Mart after church, or if we should go back to the Lord’s Day laws making it illegal to shop on Sunday. At least not directly. But Sabbath keeping is about taking time for prayer and rest one day a week. It’s about connecting with the one who is connected to us through baptism.

It’s about being Mary instead of Martha.

It’s easy to get angry at Mary. Especially if you’re a Martha. Martha was action-oriented, she was a doer, she was the one you called upon when you wanted a job done right.

Mary was the dreamer, the philosopher. She just liked to sit around and think great thoughts. Some may even call her a slacker.

So, who do you side with?

If you like to get up early and get things done, then you’re probably with Martha.

If you are looking to change the world one conversation at a time then you sit down with Mary.

But folks probably didn’t know what to make of it when Jesus took lazy Mary’s side. “Martha, Martha,” Jesus said after Martha told him to ask Mary to get up off her butt and do something useful.

“Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away.”

So, is Jesus telling Martha to chill and take a vacation or she’ll burn herself out? On the surface that’s what it looks like. And certainly many preachers have interpreted this passage that way.

But I’m not convinced.

Because the key to unlocking this passage is hidden in plain sight. The... (read the whole thing here)

No comments: