Sermons 2007
"The Better Part?" Proper 11C, 22 July 2007, Luke 10:38-42

Home | In the Beginning was the Word, Christmas Day, 25 December 2007, John 1:1-14 | What's Missing? Christmas Eve, 24 December 2007, Luke 2:1-20 | Joseph, the Forgotten One, Advent 4A, 23 December 2007, Matthew 1:18-25 | Come with Joy, Advent 3A, 16 December 2007, Matthew 11:2-11 | Darkness or Light? Advent 1A, 2 December 2007, Matthew 24:37-44 | What Kind of King is He? Proper 29C, 25 November 2007, Luke 23:35-43 | Predictions and the Horseman of the Apocalypse, Proper 28C, 18 Nov 2007, Luke 31:5-19 | Just passing through? Proper 27C , 11 November 2007, Luke 20:20-38 | Not like others? Proper 25C, 28 October 2007, Luke 18:9-14 | "We are bold to say", Proper 24C, 21 October 2007, Luke 18:1-8a | "The ten lepers", Proper 23C, 14 October 2007, Luke 17:11-19 | Proper 22C and Holy Baptism, 7 October 2007 | A taste of cool water, Proper 21C, 30 September 2007, Luke 16:19-31 | We hear what we want to hear, Proper 20C, 23 September 2007, Luke 16:1-13 | "Lost -- but found!" Proper 19C, 16 September 2007, Luke 15:1-10 | "Who is coming to dinner?" Proper 17C, 2 September 2007, Luke 14:1, 7-14 | Doors and narrow gates, Proper 16C, 26 August 2007, Luke 13:22-30 | "Fire to the earth", Proper 15C, 19 August 2007, Luke 12:49-56 | "Do not be afraid, little flock', Proper 14C, 12 August 2007, Luke 12:32-40 | "How much is enough?" Proper 13C , 5 August 2007, Luke 12:13-21 | "Lord, teach us to pray" Proper 12C, 29 July 2007, Luke 11:1-13 | "The Better Part?" Proper 11C, 22 July 2007, Luke 10:38-42 | The Good Samaritan -- the Summary of the Law" Proper 10C, 15 July 2007, Luke 10:25-37 | "Travel Light!" Proper 9C, 8 July 2007, Luke 10:1-12, 16-20 | "Independence Day" Proper 8C, 1 July 2007, Luke 9:51-62 | "Three Questions", Proper 7C, 24 Jun 2007, Luke 9:18-24 | "In or Out?" Proper 6C, 17 June 2007, Luke 7:36-50 | "On Grace", Proper 5C, 10 June 2007, Luke 7:11-17 | Trinity C, 3 June 2007 | Pentecost C, 27 May 2007 | "Unity and Diversity" Easter 7C, 20 May 2007, John 17:20-26 | "Come, Holy Spirit, Come" Easter 6C, 13 May 2007, John 14:23-29 | "What is this thing called love?" Easter 5C, 6 May 2007, John 13:31-35 | "Numbers and Sheep", Easter 4C, 29 April 2007, John 10:22-30 | Virginia Tech, Easter 3C, 22 April 2007 Revelation 6:8-10 | Thomas Doubter and Believer, Easter 2C, 15 April 2007. John 20: 19-31 | ""Why do you look for the living among the dead?" Easter Sunday, 8 April 2007, Luke 24:1-10 | Good Friday 6 April 2007 | Maundy Thursday 5 April 2007 | Why are we not surprised? Palm/Passion Sunday C, 1 April 2007, Luke 22:39-23:50 | Party or Pout? Lent 4C, 18 March 2007, Luke 15:11-32 | To Stand on the Mountaintop, Lent 3C, 11 March 2007, Exodus 3:1-15 | "Ways Not Taken", Lent 2C, 4 March 2007. Luke 13:22-35 | "Liminal Thresholds and Lintels", Lent 1C, 25 February 2007, Luke 4:1-13 | Ash Wednesday Meditation 2007 | "Transfiguration and Transformation, Epiphany Last C, 18 February 2007, Luke 9:28-36 | "Weal and Woe", Epiphany 6C, 11 February 2007, Luke 6:17-26 | "Who, me?" Epiphany 5C, 4 February 2007, Luke 5:1-11 | "Filled with rage!" Epiphany 4C, 28 January 2007, Luke 4:21-32 | "The Spirit of the Lord is upon us," Epiphany 3C, 21 January 2007, Luke 4:14-21 | "Weddings and Miracles," Epiphany 2C, 14 January 2007, John 2:1-11 | Schism and Epiphany, Epiphany 1C, 7 Dec 2007, Luke 3:15-16, 21-22

Proper 11C Luke 10:38-42

In the Gospel according to Peanuts, Lucy has just blasted Linus for something. Once She gets out of hearing, Linus says to Charlie Brown, “Big sisters are the crabgrass in the lawn of life.” I know that there are times when my younger granddaughter thinks that about her big sister. And if pressed, my brother might have felt something like that about me on more than one occasion.

I suspect that Mary felt like that when her older sister came charging in and told her to get on her feet and get in the kitchen and help. And we heard what Jesus said to Martha about stopping, being still, and listening.

“Southern women are great Marthas and proud of it. Having been raised in this culture, I know that supper in a
southern kitchen is a wonder to behold. Those who have traditional southern hospitality refined to an art never sit.
They hover. Plates are never allowed to go empty. Guests are continually asked if they need anything. In fact, many times the hostess will continue to cook all through the meal.

“When does the hostess eat? This is one of the South’s mysteries. The hostess keeps working, huffing around the table, a trickle of perspiration running past the string of pearls on her neck. She misses all dinner conversation, all sharing of feelings and information, and gives herself totally to serving.”

I can say that my own experience is that there are plenty of women in the North who, despite never having visited the South, must have southern blood in them. Especially those with Italian and Irish Catholic backgrounds.

“Also a wonder is the woman who greets the guests unflustered at the door with the table already set, the kitchen spotless. This hostess sits, talks, laughs and eats the appetizers with her guests. She excuses herself, goes to the kitchen, and returns with food that’s prepared and ready to eat. At dinner, she remains around the table, getting to know the guests, asking about their lives, sharing her own thoughts and feelings.

“Hospitality is an art form. … Theologically the purpose of hospitality is to prepare a welcoming space for encounters with God’s word. It’s not that God’s word cannot be heard in barren, inhospitable places or circumstances. God is not so limited, but we are. God can speak in any situation, but we, frail creatures, cannot always hear. Consider the struggle of the Hebrews in the wilderness where they were so preoccupied with the lack of creature comforts that they constantly complained against God and Moses. To keep their attention, to keep them moving, to keep them faithful, God often found herself preparing dinners of manna and quail. Only then, when fed, could they hear the word. (1).

So it is with us. Just take a look at lasagna dinners, fish fries, bake sales – any of the hospitable things involving food that we do to support the church and community. The world works because of Martha men and Martha women.

Every church needs a hundred Marthas. Because of them church budgets get balanced, church buildings get repaired and cleaned, babies and children have a Sunday School. When Marthas are missing Marys start scrambling to find the keys to lock doors, turn on the lights and turn on the air conditioning. Marthas are the Energizer Bunnies of the church: going and going and going." But Mary’s know when to tell them to rest, and not burn out. (2)

A parish priest was visiting an old woman in a nursing home whom he had known for years. She was a kind and generous person who had devoted her life to the service of God and her fellow human beings. Over the years her hands had become rough and gnarled and calloused from long hours of scrubbing tables and pots and pans as a volunteer worker in a shelter for the homeless.

She confided to him that now that her life was running out she was troubled about what she could say to the Lord when she saw Him. It had never been easy for her to express herself in words. “I can barely read and write,” she said. “I won’t know what to say or how to say it.”

Her visitor reminded her that the Lord would be more than pleased to know about all the good work she had done for others. “Don’t worry,” he assured her, “you won’t have to say one word. Just show Him your hands!” (3)


1. Mary W. Anderson in The Christian Century, 7/1/1998, as printed in Synthesis for Proper 11C 2007, adapted.
2. Max Lucado, A Gentle Thunder, Word Publishing, 1995, page 127, in eSermons Illustrations for 22 July 2007, adapted.
3. Preacher’s Illustration Service Anthology, Voicings, modified.