An act of worship at home for
Sunday 29th March 2020
Reading Luke 10:38-42
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’
‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed – or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’
Just as last week I moved away from any of the set lectionary readings for this little act of worship for use at home so too this week I have chosen a reading that speaks to about the situation we are living through. But why Mary and Martha?
With so many of us are being told not to leave our homes, except for absolutely essential supplies or medical appointments, something about Mary and Martha’s story spoke to me. What struck me is that contrast between busyness and stillness. For some of us that is a contrast that is all too apparent as we’re stuck at home, away from so many of the things we’d normally be doing. For Mary and Martha perhaps their actions (or inactions) came partly through their different characters and were at least to some degree their own choice.
My wife Eddy and I are very different. We both work hard but I must admit that when I stop then I stop. If I sit and listen to a piece of music then as far as possible I will just listen to the music, if I am reading a book I will just read the book and do nothing else. Eddy, on the other hand, seldom stops completely. If she does make time to watch something on television she is almost always doing something else, sewing, or replying to emails, or a thousand and one other things.
For some of us at the moment we may be feeling a bit like Martha being forced to be like Mary, against our nature and without any choice in the matter. Some of us may be feeling like Mary who chose to make time and sit at the feet of Jesus but who, I am sure, having done so was just as ready as Martha to get up and do something.
As I re-read Jesus’ word to Martha I am struck again. This story isn’t really about busyness or stillness, it is about where our focus is, or more precisely who our focus is. If we are worried and upset about many things, few things are needed, in fact only one.
Whether we are using the time to spring clean, or do some gardening, or trying to stop the children from bouncing off the ceiling I pray that each one of us knows the presence of Christ with us, bringing peace and stillness to racing hearts and minds.
Lord, as we come to you in prayer help us to simply be,
to refocus our lives for a moment away from all that is happening
and just to sit at your feet for a while…
Lord, slow our breathing and our hearts and calm our minds
as we come to know your calm and gentle presence… here… now…
Lord, thank you..
thank you that we are not alone,
but you are here, your love surrounding and filling us.
In this time of stillness, as we focus our thoughts on you
we come to you in love with our prayers for ourselves and all those we know and love…
In the stillness we come with out prayers for this country
and for all countries around the world.
We pray for those key workers
working to produce, transport and distribute essential supplies.
We pray for those working in shops and driving lorries,
for those working in hospitals and research.
We pray for those in positions of power and authority throughout the world
and for those who advise and guide them.
Lord, we pray for healing for your world.
Be with us all, now and in the days ahead,
that we may continue to sit at your feet and know your presence. Amen.
Hymn StF 20 – Be still, for the presence of the Lord
still, for the presence of the Lord, the Holy One, is here;
Come bow before him now with reverence and fear:
In him no sin is found – we stand on holy ground.
Be still, for the presence of the Lord, the Holy One, is here.
still, for the glory of the Lord is shining all around;
He burns with holy fire, with splendour he is crowned:
How awesome is the sight – our radiant King of light!
Be still, for the glory of the Lord is shining all around.
still, for the power of the Lord is moving in this place;
He comes to cleanse and heal, to minister his grace –
No work too hard for him. In faith receive from him.
Be still, for the power of the Lord is moving in this place.