Lectionary - Pentecost 7 (Ordinary Sunday 16) Year C

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Amos 8:1-12 The time is ripe for judgment on Israel
Psalm 52 Why do you boast
Colossians 1:15-28 The cosmic Christ
Luke 10:38-42 Mary and Martha: Mary has chosen what is best

Suggested Hymns (numbers refer to The Australian Hymn Book)
47 God himself is present
75 O love of God how strong and true
92 God has spoken by his prophets
274 Man more than man
376 Blest are the pure in heart
420 Jesus, thou joy of loving hearts
455 Be thou my vision
463 Jesu, priceless treasure
519 Dear Lord and Father of mankind
TIS 597 AHB 516 Master, speak, thy servant heareth
TIS 601 AHB 522 O Master let me walk with thee

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Sermon Summary - Pentecost 7 (Ordinary 16) Year C (Click here for complete sermon)

Mary and Martha

It is really an excuse, this attitude of "I'm more of a Martha than a Mary; I do practical things; and what's more you couldn't get by without me": it is an excuse because it avoids the challenge of a more demanding role shown to us in the example of Mary of Bethany who Jesus praised saying Mary has chosen the better part (Luke 10:42). Indeed you could say that the part Mary chose is not a way of avoiding work so much as another kind of work, demanding work - the Opus Dei, 'the work of God'.

The value of Martha's work
Valuable service was given by a group of women who travelled with Jesus and his disciples from Galilee and provided for their daily needs, as Luke records a few chapters earlier (Luke 8:1-3). At the end the same group followed faithfully the body of Jesus when it was taken from the cross. They saw it laid in the tomb (Luke 23:55). They became the first witnesses to evidence for his resurrection (Luke 24:10). So the Martha type of service did not go unrewarded. What they did was good. The greater value of Mary's devotion is seen in comparison with something that was very good.

Martha's faith
Nor is it a matter of faith versus works. Martha was a woman of faith. She was one of the few followers of Jesus who openly confessed faith in him as the Christ during his earthly ministry (John 11:21-27). Yet she remained the practical Martha (John 11:39).

The danger of distractions
There is nothing wrong with being practical and it can be combined with faith, as it was for Martha, but she was in danger of missing out on the things of greatest value, or the one thing of truly great value. Martha's vision was distracted by too many concerns to see the one thing that was really necessary (Luke 10:40-42). To recognize truly who he was meant more than anything else being ready to learn from him, receiving what he had to give rather than trying to give him more than he needed.

Women as disciples
Then there is affect of this on those who serve and listen to him. This is important to women and to our regard for the status of women in the church. When Jesus approved Mary's preference for listening to him he accepted her as a disciple, a member of the inner circle sharing in the most important things, in contrast to the serving or secondary supportive role that women then as now too often find themselves taking. The male disciples might well have been surprised at this inclusion of a women, just as were when they found him talking with the woman at the well in Samaria (John 4:27).

The great secret
Mary was commended for listening. What do you think she was learning? While we can only imagine the words that Mary heard, we do know the central message he brought. The epistle for today sums it up in the words of Paul as he says of the message the apostles proclaimed (Colossians 1:25-27, and see Ephesians 1:9-10). Through our relationship to Christ, so close a relationship that Paul can say "Christ in you", and Jesus could speak of our dwelling in him, we have hope of that glory in which God's purpose for us is fulfilled, that all things in heaven and on earth might be brought into a unity in him. It begins with listening.

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Order of Service - Pentecost 7 (Ordinary Sunday 16) Year C
The Gathering of the People of God

In the name of Jesus Christ, let us worship God. As the people of God said long ago, in the house of the Lord,
I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever. I will thank you forever, because of what you have done.
In the presence of the faithful I will proclaim your name, for it is good. (Psalms 52:8-9)

HYMN TIS 139 AHB 75 O love of God how strong and true

PRAYER OF ADORATION (Adapted from the Methodist Covenant Service, 1936)
Let us pray. Let us adore God.
We worship and adore you, God of love who created us; who every moment preserves and sustains us; who has loved us with an everlasting love, and given us the light of the knowledge of your glory in the face of Jesus Christ.
We praise you, O God, we acknowledge you to be the Lord.

We glory in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; who though he was rich, yet for our sakes became poor; who went about doing good and preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom; who was tempted in all points as we are, yet without sin; who became obedient unto death, even the death on the cross; who was dead and is alive for evermore; who opened the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers; who now lives and reigns in the glory of the Father.
You are the King of Glory, O Christ.

We rejoice in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, by whom we are born into the family of God, and made members of the Body of Christ; whose witness confirms us; whose wisdom teaches us; whose power enables us; who waits to do for us exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or imagine.
All praise to you, O Holy Spirit.

Most merciful God we confess that we have sinned against you and our neighbour. We have taken great benefits with little thanks and we have been more ready to insist upon our rights than to see the needs of others. Have mercy and forgive us, for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. [1 John 1:9] Hear then Christ's word of grace to us: Your sins are forgiven.
Thanks be to God.

DOXOLOGY: Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.


Service of the Word

INTRODUCTION OF THEME: A word to the children.

OLD TESTAMENT Amos 8:1-12 The time is ripe for judgment on Israel
PSALM 52 Why do you boast
EPISTLE Colossians 1:15-28 The cosmic Christ
GOSPEL Luke 10:38-42 Mary and Martha: Mary has chosen what is best
{Dramatized reading
NARRATOR As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.
[Martha enters. She comes to the front centre as Jesus enters. She welcomes him by taking his hand, and leads him to a chair right of centre, where he sits.
Martha moves to behind the lectern on the other side to the narrator and begins to re-arrange and tidy things.
Mary enters and sits on the floor in front of Jesus looking intently up at him.]
NARRATOR 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,
[Martha moving to the front left, and holding something in her hand, speaks anxiously to Jesus]
MARTHA Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!
JESUS Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.
[All move off quietly together]}

HYMN TIS 597 AHB 516 Master, speak, thy servant heareth
HYMN TIS 601 AHB 522 O Master let me walk with thee

SHARING TIME [Notices, celebrations, requests for intercessions]
THE LORD'S PRAYER [Front of the Hymn Book]

The Sending Forth of the People of God

HYMN TIS 547 AHB 455 Be thou my vision
DISMISSAL Go in peace to love and serve the Lord:
In the name of Christ. Amen.

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