Are You Listening?


Luke 10:38-42

Grace and peace to you from the Triune God.

As we packed up our campsite last weekend we discussed what we were going to do for lunch since it was about noon and we were starting to get quite hungry. We decided that we would stop at McDonald’s in Gaylord on our way home. This sounded like a great idea and when we pulled into the parking lot I noticed a tour bus on the other side of the lot. Come to find out, it was a group of Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts on their way to Mackinac Island to serve as guides. The line in that McDonald’s wrapped around the dining room. Needless to say we decided that our hunger would have to wait until we came to the next McDonald’s.

The employees were doing as much as they could and as fast as they could, it was just that they were overwhelmed by this influx of customers. For any of you that have worked in the restaurant business or retail, you can relate to how frustrating and nerve-wracking this can be. I bring this up because I believe that Martha could have related to the McDonald’s employees that we encountered that day. If you recall a couple of weeks ago, Jesus was traveling with the 70 he had called to go out and serve after they returned to him. At this point in the gospel, it makes sense that they are still with him and when over 70 people show up at your home after traveling, they are most likely quite hungry. Martha does what comes natural to her and that is to provide hospitality to those that have showed up on her doorstep. It is no wonder that she gets upset that Mary is not in the kitchen helping her prepare food for all of their guests to eat. Instead, can you believe it, Mary is at the feet of Jesus learning from him. Yet, could this be seen as a form of hospitality as well?

Martha is so distracted with the water she is boiling, vegetables she is preparing, bread that needs to be baked, that she has overlooked the possibilities of the moment in front of her. As she brings her concerns to Jesus, she seems to be more concerned about getting her job done then hearing what Jesus has to say in his teachings.

How often do we find ourselves in the same situation? A situation where we put blinders on and forget about everything else around us. Now, I am not saying that to be focused and intentional in our actions is a bad thing. What can lead us down the wrong road is not paying attention to our surroundings and breathing in the life of those people around us. Not knowing what it is that motivates them and what touches their hearts. Not only being with them in times that we celebrate, but also being with them in their darkest of days. Allowing ourselves to be present in a way that allows us to connect with community and build relationship.

There are times that we are called into action. Called by circumstances that happen around us. Called to be God’s hands and feet in this world that at times seems to be falling apart The good Samaritan was called into action in last weeks gospel in helping the half-dead man along the roadside. The continued violence that we have been experiencing in our own country, leaves us wondering where God is in all of this and how we are called to act upon it.  We hear of violence happening in other countries, where just this past Thursday a truck driver drove through a group of people gathered to celebrate Bastille Day in Nice, France killing 84 and injuring hundreds more. We witness groups, like Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter, being vocal and wanting their voices to be heard. We have rhetoric going back and forth between political parties as we are  getting closer and closer to election season. There are so many voices at times we wonder who it is that we should truly listen to.

As we hear of all of this violence, I have to admit, part of me wonders if it truly is any worse than say 50 or 100 years ago, or if the way we communicate today through social media, hearing news instantaneously, just makes it appear worse. One thing is for sure though, and that is that we are not loving our sisters and brothers as we should. While there are times to be called into action and stand beside our brothers and sisters in protest, there are also times that we may just have to shut-up and listen.

This is the route that Mary takes as Martha and her welcome Jesus into their home. She sits at the feet of Jesus listening and breathing in all that he has to say. She is not distracted by those things that can wait. She knows where God is calling her to be at the time and that is sitting and listening.

It is in Jesus’ reassurance to Martha, and his loving guidance, that there is only need of one thing. That one thing is to be in relationship with Jesus and for Mary at this time it is sitting and listening and for Martha it may very well be preparing food and serving others. How can we follow Mary’s example in the midst of everything that is happening around us? We need to be able to listen and not be quick to judge. This goes for those on either side of a debate. Once we listen, and pray for God’s guidance, then and only then should we act and raise our voices to be heard.

As you attempt to decipher the news from the past couple of weeks may you sit in silence and listen. Listen to your sisters and brothers that have been affected and pray for them and pray for God to guide you in the right direction. For as Jesus says this morning, we are only in need of one thing. Christ has given up his life for us and shown us what it means to live into a new creation. May we take his example and let it guide our lives as we listen.












By Alex Steward

I am a husband, father, and pastor within the ELCA. I did not grow up in the church and thus come at this pastoring thing with an unique perspective.

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