Last Tuesday I wrote the sermon for Sunday. By Thursday I decided to try something different and I'm glad I did. So..dear reader, this is the sermon I wrote but never delivered.
As Jesus and his disciples went on their way, Jesus entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me." But the Lord answered her, "Martha, 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 from her."
I am easily distracted. I am easily distracted to a fault. I have been this way my whole life. There are so many things that interest me that it is often difficult for me to focus. When Sherry and I first moved here, there were so many things to attend to that I would jump from one thing to another. Before long I found myself on the library board, the chamber board, the historical society board and the inter-church council board. Sherry and I worked very hard at taking care of the delayed maintenance on our newly purchased house. I began the discernment process of becoming an Episcopal Priest. All the while I complained about being too busy, especially for a guy who was retired. I told several people it was lucky that I had retired because I really didn't have time for a full time job.
Then things started to change. I noticed I was having a difficult time running. My right foot would start to drag when I would get physically tired. I went to a doctor and he kind of brushed it off. I went to another doctor, then another and another until at the end of this frustrating journey I had gone to fourteen doctors. I also went to a chiropractor, massage therapist and an acupuncturist. By the time I got to Mayo Clinic and they confirmed a diagnosis of MS I was kind of re-leaved. They told me I would not get better and only get worse but that it would be a very slow process.
So why am I telling you this? Because I am a little like Martha. Martha was so busy worrying over the distractions of the day, the cooking, the cleaning and making sure all of the visitor's cups were filled that she was missing the big picture. She was in the presence of Jesus the Christ, the God incarnate and she was not listening to his Word. She was too busy! Mary is not the bad person here. Jesus loved Martha just as he loved Mary and I would guess there are just as many Marthas in heaven as there are Marys. Where do you see yourself? Are you more like Mary or Martha?
Often times when I am talking to someone who has faced some life changing event I will ask them the question, “What have you learned from this?” I had to ask myself that same question. What was I supposed to learn from this new reality of living with multiple sclerosis?
It has made me stop and examine what is really important in my life. I concluded that it had to be the call I felt to become a priest and to share God's word with the people in my life. All of those other things are good but I realize now that if I spread myself too thin, I will do nothing well and I, like Martha, miss what really, for me, should be my focus.
I ask you to do the same. Examine yourself, look within, and ask, “what is really important in my life? What do I need to spend more time on? What do I need to let go?” I am not asking that you drop everything in life and become something akin to a monk. What may be important is to look at life and all that you do through a different lens.
Several years ago I began carrying a rock in my pocket. It was a small smooth stone with a cross etched on the face of it. I carried it around with me as a reminder that I needed to view my life through my faith. When I was in contentious meeting on the city council I would place that rock on the desk as a reminder that I was talking to people who were children of God. When I made decisions, that rock with the cross reminded me that my decision could have a ripple effect that would impact far more people than I could realize.
That to me was the bigger picture. It was always being mindful that my life should be God centered and even if what I was doing might seem mundane, such as making sure a guests glass is full. If it was done with the understanding that the person whose glass was being filled was a part of God's creation, then I had not lost focus. I was showing love for my neighbor, that very important second commandment.