Saturday, July 20, 2013

The better part

Luke 10:38–42

If Jesus was coming to dinner, what would you serve him? Would you create a complete turkey dinner, with a fancy table setting, or pizza take-out on disposable dishes?
·         What does each type of meal say about you and about your guest?
·         How much time will you spend preparing, serving, and cleaning up with each meal?
·         Would Jesus care which meal he was served? Why or why not?
We can understand Jesus’ words to Martha as reprimand: “I’m only going to be with you for a little while. Sit with me while you can!”
Or, we can understand it as encouragement. “Please, come, sit and listen, and learn from me. What I have to share with you is much more important than a fancy meal.” 
I think Jesus’ words to Martha are an invitation for all women to shed the assumption that their place is in the background. Women’s place in Jesus’ world is right next to the men, sitting at Jesus’ feet to learn from him. Women in Jesus’ world followed him, supported him financially, and I believe they were among the 70 who were sent out to do ministry.
I have this vision: as the male disciples went into a town to speak with other men, so the female disciples went into a town to speak with other women. The men went to the butcher shop, the flour mill, the sandal maker, the shepherd, and the fishermen. They spoke about Jesus with the men as they worked.
The women went to the well, to the communal oven, to the spice market, the olive oil vendor, and the vegetable shop. They told the women about Jesus in the places where the women went. In this way, all people were able to hear about Jesus.
Martha and Mary were Jesus’ friends. We don’t know just how he knew them, but he apparently spent time in their home. These sisters are the same women who send to Jesus to keep their brother Lazarus from dying.
Apparently, Martha learned to stop fussing about the meal to be served and instead learned to sit at Jesus’ feet and learn from him. By the time Lazarus was ill, she knew he taught about God in new ways, and had special powers for healing. She learned to choose the better part.
So, how about you? Do get so busy you neglect to take time to sit with Jesus? Do you think you have to have the perfect prayer life or you might as well not bother praying?  Does your prayer life consist only of giving God a list of concerns? Or does your prayer life include spending time listening to God?   
I want to share a prayer pattern with you that helps put the focus on listening to God and responding to what God has to say to you. If you like it, I have put this into the newsletter so you will have it in print soon, or you can find some copies in the box outside my door. It’s the Body Prayer of Julian of Norwich. She’s a mystic from the 15th century.

First, the four motions, and then, what they mean.

AWAIT (hands at waist, cupped up to receive a gift)

ALLOW (reach up, hands open)

ACCEPT (hands at heart, cupped towards body)

ATTEND (hands outstretched, giving back)

AWAIT God’s message for you. It may be as simple as “I love you,” or “Thanks for spending time with me.” Or, “You need to apologize.”

ALLOW God’s message to reach your heart. Do you need to feel love? Do you need to give love? Do you need to thank God for something? Do you need to ask for forgiveness?

ACCEPT the message and the challenge God may have given you. Take the time to understand the message and prepare your heart to act on it.

ATTEND to the message, making happen what God has asked you to do. Tell yourself God loves you. Reflect on what God has given you. Go to the person and make amends.

Again, the four motions.
AWAIT (hands at waist, cupped up to receive a gift)
ALLOW (reach up, hands open)
ACCEPT (hands at heart, cupped towards body)
ATTEND (hands outstretched, giving back)

Jesus wants us to spend time sitting at his feet, not telling him our list of needs and concerns, but hearing what he has to say to us.
I challenge you this week to take time sitting and listening to Jesus. Maybe you already do this. Maybe this is a new thought for you. Maybe you have tried it and got bored. These body movements may help you pay attention.
It takes time, and it takes practice, but I think you will enjoy it.
Please pray with me. Jesus, you call us to listen, to spend time with you. Chase away our distractions, be patient with us, and welcome us into your presence. Amen 

Note: You will find the video on YouTube by searching for Body Prayer of Julian of Norwich.