Mary and Martha, Perpetua and Felicity

Grace and Peace to you,

My sisters and brothers in Christ

Be open how the Creator God wants to use you

Be bold in how you serve others

No matter how foolish,

Or how costly it appears

Because all you are doing,

Is what Jesus Christ has done for us

Something so costly,

So foolish

And yet, full of Love, and Grace.

Amen.

 (pause)

 What new wisdom can be garnered,

What is the Gospel saying to us,

Especially a Gospel so well known before us this morning?

(pause)

Following Jesus in the command to love one another

Doing ministry with and for those who have been cast aside

Concerned for others, who are struggling to exist and being seen as essential

Serving as an advocate,

In places where people have been forgotten and ignored

Can be exhausting

Especially in the here and now,

When it seems that the love that has been given to us

Has been tossed aside,

And the fellowship we should have

With our fellow sisters and brothers in Christ and in Faith

Has been broken.

Suddenly it seems we are living in two separate societies,

One that tries each moment to live into an intentional reality

Listening to each other’s histories, our ideas, and how our faith,

Whatever that might be

Grounds us for the common good

And one which would rather push all of the rest of us out into that outer circle,

Using faith as a weapon to divide, to malign and hate

Their picture of God as a conquerer

Their idea that God wants us to assimilate,

To specifically their narrow criteria, their values, their view of Grace

Leaving us frustrated

And sometimes we wonder and repeat-

Is this even worth it?

Should we just hunker down until Jesus returns?

Because no one is clearly hearing the Gospel!

And then God surprises us

(pause)

“God works in mysterious ways.”

We’ve all heard this cliché

And yet there is truth in this statement

Because we have witnessed how God moves  God’s people

Unexpectedly.

Through those fellow sisters and brothers that we would never have anticipated

And that sometimes we do not see the significance

Of their sacrifice

Through their actions

In their ministry

Expressing their faith

In their calling

(pause)

Humanity has it fixated in our minds

That the only way to be recognized

Is to accomplish and contribute to humanity, in a massive way

Getting our name in lights and down on paper

Advancing us economically and benefiting us, us meaning humanity

Exclusively,

Never mind that some of our progress, digresses this Creation,

So then

Actively living out our faith,

Impacting others’ lives

For the sake of Love and Mercy,

24/7!

Is regulated to the hippies and the Jesus Freaks

(pause)

I wonder if Mary and Martha could be considered Jesus Freaks

Mary and Martha,

In our Gospel this morning

Their presence alone was a testament

Blessing, anointing the feet of one who was seen as so prominent as a leader

Prestigious in His teachings,

Opening people’s mind to the power of God’s Word

Controversial because of who He claimed to be,

And what that meant for those who gathered around Him

Listened to Him

Followed Him

(pause)

Approaching and essentially touching someone of such reputation

Embracing someone as if they were familiar, like family

Especially by those who was considered of a low or sub class

Was inappropriate

Particularly if it was a woman

See, women were not allowed to anoint men-

Samuel anointed Saul as Israel’s first king

Male Popes anointing male emperors throughout Western history

And so forth

Even more unfitting,

A woman insinuating herself in a public place

Where her presence was more often than not, ignored

Using a part of herself which was deemed so precious

Her hair,

Which was seen as the only commodity

that gave any woman value in the eyes of society

as a way of showing hospitality and care-

(pause)

We here at Redeemer show hospitality, right?

When a family is hurting because of their grief

When a family is celebrating because of joy in their lives

When a new Pastor comes into these doors,

The love that pours out through our generosity-

Is astounding,

We love to share through food,

I feel the love every time one of you share a homemade dish,

Or when Don insists I join them at Gabe’s after church.

(I’m trying to eat healthy, ya’ll!)

(pause)

But this is how the beloved community cares for one another!

When we are working tirelessly for an end to issues

That affect our communities,

When we recognize those in our midst,

Whose call it is to be that voice,

To share the Good News!

Just as Mary and Martha knew clearly who Jesus was,

And knowing that He too, needed compassion,

Because if Jesus was to experience our lives,

Then it’s not hard to imagine Jesus being weary

From healing, speaking, gathering, helping

(pause)

Mary and Martha,

The ones who would carry the Good News

That Jesus Christ had risen,

And would not be believed by the disciples

Mary and Martha,

Who chose to follow Jesus,

Following this “Way” which was ridiculed by the Romans

And disputed by the Jewish Rabbis

Who were alarmed, terrified at Jesus’s presence

Because their power that they thought was in their grasp

Would be shaken

Reminded that they were not the center of attention

Nor could they ever be the savior of the people

(pause)

Perpetua and Felicity

Two women who you may or not know

Two women who were baptized in “The Way”

Who were damned for their beliefs

Belief in the One who through death

Gave to us unexpected hope-

Life everlasting

Perpetua and Felicity,

Forbidden to follow their Faith,

Forbidden to follow Jesus

Through threat of death,

Refused to convert

Conform to society expectations

Clung to the Cross etched upon their very being

Their example,

Of standing on their faith,

Knowing the Creator stood with them

Can unexpectedly inspire others to courageously live out their calling

(pause)

Just as these four women,

Anselm, Marguerite and Regina, Judith

Women that we would have never encountered,

These, the Daughters of Charity

Aiding the poor, the forgotten without recognition

Caring for those whom a broken society refuses to acknowledge

How they existed in unfortunate war torn Yemen

And how because they were a physical, public presence

Of the Mercy of God,

As Christ’s followers,

Because they were bold to proclaim-

More than that,

I regard everything as loss

 because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord”

They did not back down even under the oppressive regime

They would not recant who they were,

And so who will care for them now?

Just as we care for those who have closed their eyes to this world,

Who will anoint these martyrs with oil?

Just as Mary anointed Jesus,

For what would lie ahead,

For what awaited Him on the Cross.

(pause)

Sometimes it is very hard to be a follower of Christ

We take a gamble and break open vials of oil,

Or precious water

Or our money

Or our time

Or our resources

Pouring out as a way of blessing,

Professing our love for others,

Signifying our dedication to each other

And we do this work,

Not knowing what the end result will be

Doing ministry here through out these sacred walls,

And even outside,

We will face difficulties

Perhaps not as severe

as these four nuns who were murdered in Yemen this week

because of their faith

Perhaps not as Perpetua and Felicity

who were martyrs for remaining rooted and unashamedly in their faith

Perhaps not even as Mary and Martha

who refused to stop talking and praising and being close to Jesus Christ

But,

We do struggle,

There is so much we can offer this community beyond this doors

And even as we worry about our small youth group

And Sunday School

As we are beside ourselves as our members have left

And some joining the Church Triumphant

Instead of worrying

How about we watch God work,

In those unexpected ways

(pause)

God shows up amidst the crowd of faithful,

Who stand as a public witness

Shouting, pushing back the darkness that Dr. King spoke of

Reaching out to physically care for others,

Whether through the gift of food,

Or the gift of linking their arms with others

For protection and solidarity

For someone to know they are not alone

God shows up in those who are broken

Who maybe have broken laws,

Or broken a bond

But when the bread is torn into two and offered,

They see that God cares and God Loves and God feeds us,

And they want to give back as they are able

God shows up in sinners

In you and me,

Because wherever we go,

We have the power through the Holy Spirit

To share the Good News of Jesus Christ.

That Jesus has not abandoned us,

Just leaving us a desperate situation

Of caring for the poor, the downtrodden

But that through caring for those who are along this life’s journey-

Through anointing the sick, wrapping up those who are cold,

Embracing those who are weary, providing for those who are empty handed

We are doing for them, as Mary did for Jesus

Mary anointed Jesus without a thought

We are called to care for one another

without thought to how much its going to cost

Or whether we are going to get laughed or snubbed

Yes, our programs may only reach out to a few,

Ideas that spring forth may wilt

So will we declare it a loss?

Will we complain and moan

That we misused our time,

Our money,

Will we grumble about why one of our fellow sister or brother

Has dragged us into doing ministry for people

We think that its all a waste

That its more of an embarrassment

That we should just model ourselves like everyone else around us

Who doesn’t rock the boat

Or disrupt the normality

Or we worry more about our status,

Our place in line

What the neighbors will say

That we need to keep a low profile

That we need to live up to the standards of this world,

Which will abandon us each and every time!

Or will we simply do

What God has called us to do?

(pause)

Thanks Be to God

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