Well that’s a wrap, the church year is over-- we are in summer. Time for cabins, long warm evenings, poolsides, friends, and out-of-office email notifications. See you in september! The life of the church feels at times like drinking from a firehose, so when summer comes theres this deep sense of release and calm. We can finally stop and relax. But can we? Who’s gonna read? Who’s gonna set the altar? Who has the coffee and hospitality figured out? What about the salmon BBQ? Or the sunday school? Oh then there is the fall BBQ, and the incoming students for classes. Then it’s Thanksgiving, and I wonder if the vicar will have some weird idea again for us to do. And October is Homeless action month! Gosh! Not to mention all the pressures to get our work done before vacation, then only to walk back into work and face the onslaught of the fall. I don’t wanna think about it! So now what? Be still and know that I am God.
Luke’s Gospel this morning does not really afford us much chance to be still in the midst of all of this work. It’s helpful to remind ourselves that the Jesus of Luke is pointing directly into Jerusalem, a place of politics, trial, and death. There is an imminence in the message of what Christ’s life is about in these times -- we do not have time to waste, there is real work to do and we as a church must be ready. Maybe, then, reflecting on the image of Martha is helpful -- the do’er. There is so much to do, in the face of what this Jesus movement is asking of us. Time is precious as we move closer and closer to Jerusalem. The need for our work is high right now, inclusion, marriage, indigenous self-determination, hate speech, the rise of anti-immigrant / white nationalism, the abasement of the world for profit, among many others. The need is high, and the workers are few! Jesus, can’t we just suspend summer this year?! Martha is a human trait, we like to accomplish things. But so is Mary, sitting and waiting with the one who calls her into life. Yet it would be disingenuous reading of scripture to pit Mary and Martha against each other, because each of them is doing the work of the kingdom. So what’s the difference: How we hear our name being called to be still and know God.
Being still and knowing God is at its core recognizing the presence of the divine in the moment. From the chaos of work, to the breeze over the field of lavender, or the buzz of nature from the hammock, the sounds of the kingdom of God are present in everything we are and do. In each of these moments we name the presence of God by abiding in what we see. Just last week as we sat in the newness of the tomb wondering what was next, we heard Jesus calls us by name- to go announce the resurrection to the world. We are called by name at baptism, and every week here at the Eucharist. Our names have power in the world, because they demarcate a slice of the holy presence in our midst, since we are fashioned in the image of the divine. Being called again and again by name, is about the proximity of the kingdom in our world, and the kingdom is so very close to us right now. Are we ready to sit, be still, and listen?
I think one of my deepest prayers coming out of General Synod, is that we become a church that truly listens. That we find a way to put down our statements, positions, affiliations, camps, protests, angends, assumptions, pens, aggression, and stubbornness, and really listen to one another- to listen with the ear of our heart, which is hard work. It means truly hearing the story of another in the same way we hear and see the breeze in the lavender fields, or in the sunsets -- the full presence of God’s majesty. So Christ calls us by name, in the midst of this chaos, and asks us to see the proximity of the kingdom in everything we are and do. How do we do that?
We pray. And I want to offer us this prayer to pray in our weeks ahead. As our summers melt into fall and the work feels high and the stakes even higher. I invite you to make this an I statement by using your name in place of mine.
Alex, be still and know that I am God.
Alex, be still and know that I am.
Alex, be still and that that I.
Alex, be still and know that.
Alex, be still and know.
Alex, be still and.
Alex, be still.
You and I are called by name, to see and know the proximity of the kingdom of God in everything we do and are becoming in the midst of a world full of fear, exclusion, and tasks. Come and sit with Jesus this morning, in the midst of everything we have to do and hear God, in Christ, says to us:
be still and know that I am God.
be still and know that I am.
be still and that that I.
be still and know that.
be still and know.
be still and.
How will you be still, how will you be in the presence of God this week?