To Do: Listen

Sunday, July 17, 2022
Guest Preacher, Chase Foreman 

Luke 10:38-42

Well, it’s true. Martha’s right. There’s literally too much to do. I’m not sure if I have ever finished a to do list in my life. And I know there are some things that I have failed to put on the list, things that I didn’t even think of, important things. Way more important than a lot of the things that did make the list. And now I can’t go back and do those important things. So, what I am saying is that not only can I not get to all the things on the to do list, I’m not even sure I’m putting the right stuff on there.

On some level we can relate to Martha very easily. She’s not wrong. There is truly a lot to do. And truly, there’s too much to do. She’s not going to get it done and neither are we. On top of that, Martha is encountering Jesus, so her to do’s are getting another layer of difficulty added to them.

Martha is under a a powerful custom in her culture and time. It’s the custom and expectation to fulfill a responsibility of hospitality. To care for, to provide for, and to attend to her guests. This is not something she has created in her mind. This is a reality of her time and her place. She has a responsibility to feed them and to shelter them and to protect them. And so, Martha responds appropriately. She attends to and cares for her guests and their needs.

But Jesus is also a specific kind of guest. Jesus is a prophet and a teacher. And Mary responds to Jesus appropriately as well by sitting, listening, and learning from the teacher. Mary attends to the teacher and their teaching. I imagine a conversation between sisters. I’ve known a few. I have one myself.

Martha: “Why are you just sitting there Mary?”

Mary: “Well that’s what you’re supposed to do when there is someone to learn from. You sit and listen. What, am I not going to listen to him? Rude. Why are you doing all that food prep? Why aren’t you here with me?”

Martha: “Well, that’s what you should do when you have a guest to take care of, to serve, to entertain. What, am I not going to feed him? Rude.”

Sisters! It’s complicated. They are both right. There’s tension between two true things.

It’s complicated for us too.

If we take life itself on its own, there’s already a lot to do. And, each of those to do’s has a to do list of to do’s so that you can do each of them. There’s a lot to do to pass your classes. There’s a lot to do to create a stable living situation for yourself and for others. There’s a lot to do to maintain a job and career. And, a lot to do take care of your health.

There’s a lot to do.

And, on top of that you are children of God and disciples of Christ. So, you’re supposed to do all of those to do’s a certain way.

But, what’s the right way? Because if you’re busy busy busy with the doing you can end up neglecting the listening, the hearing, and the learning. You fail to lift your head up from the dirt and orient yourself. And if you’re busy busy busy with the listening and learning you can end up neglecting the doing. So you fail to roll up your sleeves, get dirty, and make progress. Finally, if you’re human human human you’re going to be dizzy in between these two and tired from just trying to survive.

As individuals we get enough of the business of doing. You’re busy. A lot of you are “on your grind.” You’re hustling and you’ve probably got a side hustle trying to make ends meet. Not only that, a lot of our social encounters are built around doing. There’s a constant reminder of how important “doing” is. We ask each other “What did you do today?” We ask each other “What are you doing this weekend?” And, “What did you do last weekend.” We get it Friday and again on Monday! The first question in many social encounters is “What do you do?” That’s a lot of “doing.” And I think we get enough.

Of course, as disciples we are called into action. We are told, as recently as the previous passage about the Good Samaritan, to go and do. Go and love your neighbor. How could we ever do enough?

Let’s check the to do list for today: sit and listen. And here you are! That’s a good start, so go ahead and check that off the list. One of the things on my list is to preach the Gospel. The Good News. The word of God. You’ve come to sit and listen, so here it is. This is what it sounds like today:

There is time to sit and listen. Yes you’re busy, but there is time to sit and listen and be filled.

And not only that, your salvation does not depend on your to do list. Your salvation has been achieved by Jesus Christ. God knows you can’t earn it, no matter how many things you tick off your imperfect to do list. Salvation is God’s gift. That’s a pretty big thing taken off your list. A burden lifted. A big heavy item on the to do list.

Now, free from the burden of earning your salvation or proving that you deserve it, you are free to live a life of discipleship, which is what is being described in this passage and in the previous one about the Good Samaritan.

Going and doing. Loving your neighbor. Being a neighbor to your neighbor.

Sitting, listening, hearing the word of God. Loving God.

Love God, love your neighbor as yourself.

This life of discipleship can be lived courageously in your going and doing… and obediently in your returning, your sitting, and your listening. And in all of this you have the grounding, the firm foundation of your faith in God’s gift of salvation through his grace.


Past Sermons