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Archive for July 29th, 2019

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Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus (St. John 11:5).” 

About Mary, Martha and Lazarus:  Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were disciples with whom Jesus had a special bond of love and friendship. The Gospel According to Saint John records that “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus (11:5).”  On one occasion, Martha welcomed Jesus into their home for a meal. While she did all the work, Mary sat at Jesus’ feet listening to his Word and was commended by Jesus for choosing the “good portion, which will not be taken away from her (Luke 10:38-42).”  When their brother Lazarus died, Jesus spoke to Martha this beautiful Gospel promise: “I am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.” We note that in this instance, it was Martha who made the wonderful confessions of faith in Christ (John 11:1-44).  Ironically, raising Lazarus from the dead made Jesus’ enemies among the Jewish leaders more determined than ever to kill Him (11:45-57).Six days before Jesus was crucified, Mary anointed His feet with a very expensive fragrant oil and wiped them with her hair, not knowing at the time that she was doing it in preparation for her Lord’s burial (John 12:1-8). (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House) 

Reflection:  Many people think as Martha, It is what we offer to Jesus that matters. And He better notice and give me some help.  Mary knew better:  it was what  Jesus offered her that mattered and changed her and Martha, and you and I.  For instance:  When I was a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America it was said many times, “The word liturgy means “work of the people”.   The second syllable of “liturgy” is “ourgia”:  work.  I heard this so many times in 20 plus years…ad nauseam.  Then I reread The Apology of the Augsburg Confession and the word liturgy is given its right meaning.  Yes, ourgia, as in ergonomics, work, and the first syllable is public: the public works of God in His Word Sacraments for us and our salvation, not first our work. From The Apology:

“Faith is that worship which receives God’s offered blessings; the righteousness of the law is that worship which offers God our own merits. It is by faith that God wants to be worshiped, namely, that we receive from Him what He promises and offers.”

There are two types of worship: the worship by the righteousness of the law and the righteousness of grace. Mary was at the feet of Jesus in the righteousness of His grace, His Word which forgives, heals and lifts us up.

Just think, this very article will be read by people around the earth. This was not possible to do from home some 20 years ago but we cannot be constantly amazed by all of this.  Adoring the creation of our hands is idolatry.  It is the Lord who gave us the mind and brains to make stuff to relieve hardship, explore, wonder and wander. Even greater is our Father’s love and mercy to save sinners by the giving of His Son and His love to still so serve our neighbor as the Lord is our God and our neighbor.

Our “ourgia” does not save us. Mary knew that.  Martha did not… at that time.  Martha would.  In John’s Gospel, Martha confesses Jesus is the Christ, chapter 11, after the death of her and sister’s brother.   This is the good portion, one thing that is needed that they both heard and believed.  Mary meets Jesus on the road and again falls at His feet and cries out that my brother would not have died if you had been here.  She knew whom to turn to as did Martha.  In the whole tangled mess of anxiety and trouble, the sisters turned not to themselves but Him and His Word. Our spirituality likewise is God’s Word, every Word in the Bible, every Word sung and prayed, every Word faithfully taught and preached, the one thing needful, daily repentance turning toward Him our Sabbath Lord.  Sabbath teaches we cannot save the world, let alone ourselves.  The one thing needful is His Word of grace, mercy and peace to do the one thing needed: being taught His Word and to help and serve our neighbor in our various vocations. We so serve not to be saved but because we are saved by grace, grace alone.

“You shall observe the worship day/that peace may fill your house, and pray./And put aside the work you do, /So that God may work in you.”/Have mercy, Lord!” (LSB #581)

 Let us pray…

Heavenly Father, Your beloved Son befriended frail humans like us to make us Your own. Teach us to be like Jesus’ dear friends from Bethany, that we might serve Him faithfully like Martha, learn from Him earnestly like Mary, and ultimately be raised by Him like Lazarus. Through their Lord and ours, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

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