Morning. It’s Sunday
On most Sundays, I publish a short Sunday Lesson. It’s an observation, or an idea, or an application from something I’m studying. I feel blessed and deeply responsible for writing this. The lesson posts at 1:35 – after you’re home from church – but you can find them any time after that. I’m game for any comments and try to respond to them all. Be forewarned that I reserve Sundays for my family. It’s a work in progress, but a goal we’re all growing into. So, if I don’t respond, then I’m probably playing chess with my daughter or watching lousy TV with my wife. On an outstanding day, I might catch a couple innings of Braves baseball. With my wife, of course. It’s Sunday.
Martha and Mary, Doer and Dreamer
I think about Jesus’ friends Martha and Mary a lot. Martha, of course, is the doer. Like me. And, like me, I watch her making a list. As she works on the list, she notices other things she’s already completed, so she writes them down just for the simple satisfaction of crossing them off. This is all pretending, of course: Matha probably didn’t read and writing was plain hard in Jesus’ day. Even so, I see her carrying her French-made Clairfontaine notebook everywhere, always wondering what Mary is doing, on her knees again with those books.
I am the same.
I see Mary, too, on her knees, sifting her memory prayerfully for that verse from Isaiah. Her brain calls it forth, and she whispers a prayer and meditates on the words. The dishes pile up, and Martha’s birthday looms without a plan or a present, and, well, she doesn’t really care. How or why can you care when you are in the presence of the Lord?
I am the same.
We are all the same.
I think of the sisters and wonder about who is correct and why? They’re silly thoughts. Someone has to feed the family and clean up. And someone has to pray and give thanks. Both sides are on the same coin. It’s a coin marked “Kingdom of Heaven.”
Brother Ezra and Brother Nehemiah
I thought of this again – of Martha and Mary – reading Ezra and Nehemiah. Both are kind of minor, boring books in the Hebrew scriptures, telling about the Hebrews rebuilding and recovering after their captivity in Babylon. Ezra is a spiritual leader who writes about G, and sacrifice, and humility, and righteousness. Brother Nehemiah, on the other hand, writes about building walls and hanging gates, and about lumber contracts, and shift work for the builders.
Just like Martha and Mary, both are necessary for the work to be done. It’s true enough that G could have simply pronounced it, and a shining city of gold and plastic would appear as the new Jerusalem. But, as He does – weirdly and amazingly – He seeks out partners in men and women. This confuses me, but G rarely acts on His own. So, when people ask why G doesn’t empty the Shepherd Center and heal everyone, I hear G asking back why they haven’t applied to medical school and why they’re playing Internet solitaire instead of dishing out mashed potatoes at the homeless shelter?
G wants a partner. Maybe you?
I am convinced that G healed me of many of the effects of my accident, and therapists at the Shepherd Center called me The Miracle Man. But, and I lift a glass to them, they were some of the best doctors and nurses and therapists in the world and worked with me for six tiring hours a day.
I think about this in the face of COVID. I was locked in the bedroom for two weeks, but was asymptomatic and felt fine. And though vaccinated, my wife and kids kept clear until I came up negative on a test. I could have just ignored it. “What’s the worry?” friends asked. “G keeps his own.”
To which I always reply – and maybe I tend toward snark – “So, no Christian died in the Second World War? Or today? From COVID?”
There’s a place for work and a place for prayer. That place is everyday, everywhere, and in everything. As told by Martha and Mary and Ezra and Nehemiah.
By way of a not-very-satisfying explanation, I co-attend a Southern Baptist church and my local rock-and-roll multi-site church. I’m comfortable with Roman Catholic and Orthodox theology and all kinds of Protestant thought. For Bibles, I use the Jerusalem Bible, the English Standard Version, and the Amplified Bible. My newest favorite is The Message. Get yourself a copy if you can. If you need one, send me an email. A favorite verse is Micah 6:8 where the prophet says:
But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor. Be compassionate and loyal in your love, and don’t take yourself too seriously – take God seriously.