“Holy moments batman!”
Yep…that’s something that your pastor said in a meeting a few weeks ago. That sounds very pastoral and theological, doesn’t it?
We all have holy moments…you know those moments where all the pieces come together or you get a tingly feeling when you’re in the presence of the holy…or something really cool works out. Holy moments…
As I said, I had one of those moments a few weeks ago. Pastor Craig, Sister Dottie, Vicar Karen and I sat down with a task. We were tasked to plan a new sermon series for the Easter season. A sermon series that starts today. We knew we wanted the series to be about Spiritual Gifts. Those holy presents we receive from God through the Spirit’s work in our lives. The awesome things that come our way when we’re baptized. But we’ve never done a sermon series like this before. And we were a bit in a fog about where to begin.
So we sat down and we asked, “Well, how do we begin this sermon series about spiritual gifts that we get from our baptism?”
And I remember looking down at my worship planning sheet and seeing the note: “April 3 baptism of Tyler John Ruch” and with that I pointed out “Hey…there’s a baptism the day that we start talking about gifts we receive from our baptism”…and then I think I yelled out “holy moment batman!”
Why was I so excited? Well, the morning we start to learn about the gifts that we receive in our baptism is the same morning that we witness to Tyler’s baptism.
How cool is it that we get to give thanks for our own baptisms and give thanks for Tyler’s. Think about it…today Tyler is receiving gifts from the spirit. Gifts that his parents are seeing unfold before them. Gifts that as a community of faith we get to witness. And through the years we get to see if Tyler is gifted in service, or hospitality or administration or pastoral care or any of the gifts the spirit can give. And then…we can help him use those gifts. And one day…he can help us..and more importantly the people outside of these walls. You see that’s why God gives gifts. It’s not to hoard or use only on the “right type of folks.” Nope–God gives gifts to use abundantly.
So today we’re focusing on two gifts. They kind of go hand in hand. Almost two sides of the coin. One is the gift of hospitality and the other service. We see it in action in our Gospel text today…two sisters–two gifts in play. One gift is hospitality–which is a universal language, right? It’s not simply about opening our homes for dinners or parties…but opening a place for others to feel welcome and to be. Whether it’s making a space for someone in your class or greeting someone tomorrow with a fresh smile that allows them to be there–and be accepted. Hospitality is a gift of being. Mary showed it well. She welcomed Jesus into their home and sat with him as he taught. She was able to simply be present.
And then there’s Martha. Poor Martha always seems to get the short straw when comparing sisters. I totally get Martha. She wants Jesus to feel welcomed, too. And so she does this through acts of service–cooking and preparing the house. Jesus never traveled alone–so that meant cooking for 15-20 folks. Cleaning up afterwards. Making sure that the place where they gathered was comfortable for all. The challenge was when she felt like she was the only one contributing. And boy do I feel that way sometimes too. How many times have I said the phrase, “Does anyone else care about this?” Or “Do I have to plan everything?” Martha got a little lost in herself when she forgot that it’s really all about Jesus. She was always free to serve by sitting and learning. She was free to serve by being in Jesus’ presence.
The gifts of hospitality and service speak to the reality of being and doing. I think many of us are excellent at the doing part. We do so much–make meals for the family, do taxes, pay bills on time, do school work with kids, do financial planning, drive people to everything, write those cards, do spring cleaning, pull weeds, plant stuff, pull weeds again, make those phone calls, write those emails, do the shopping, fix that thing that broke. Do do do do. Sometimes our service can turn ugly when we forget why we’re serving. Or for whom we’re serving. Sometimes when I do do do I’m so busy that I forget that I’ve been placed in this time and space, surrounded by wonderful people, given a place to live and love and learn–and the freedom to be. To be a child of God, to be the person God calls us to be, to be a blessing for others.
So the question is what side of the coin to you identify with? For our folks who heavily identify with being a server..what would it be if this next week you allowed yourself to be served? To be refilled to once again serve in God’s name? Or try a new area of service–and see if it helps you be in the presence of Jesus?
And for folks that are good at being hospitable and just ‘being’…what if this next week you kept an eye on someone who is working really hard…what if you welcomed them to sit next to you…and just be. See what happens. Who knows…it could turn into a holy moment!
These spiritual gifts…God gives them to us…and sometimes we might feel a little over our heads.
It reminds me of a story I heard about a memorable plane trip that Kelly Fryer a Lutheran pastor and writer experienced. She was one of the last ones on her plane to D.C. and had to lug her guitar, her carryon and her laptop. She got the last seat on the flight in the back…near the bathrooms. And as she was lugging her guitar to the very back row, a flight attendant enthusiastically called out to her, “Kelly! How are you?” To which Kelly looked at him and said, “Fine.” The flight attendant asked where she was going, if she liked playing the guitar, what she hoped to do when she got to her destination. And helped her stow her guitar..she got seated and that’s when the flight attendant whispered, “Kelly…do you see that guy sitting two seats in front of you? If he does anything suspicious…let me know.” And with that the flight attendant walked away. Her first thoughts were “What?!” Next thoughts were “He’s kidding right?” Last thought was “what if the guy does something suspicious…what do I do then?”
The plane ride was long. It was stressful. It was a bumpy ride. But it ended. They landed safely. The whole time Kelly had her laptop poised on her lap ready to spring into action if needed.
She got off the plane wondering if it was all a hoax and that’s when in the terminal she saw several police and FBI agents waiting to arrest the man.
Remember Kelly is not a bouncer, not a judo instructor, not a law enforcement agent…she’s a pastor…and a Lutheran one at that. And realizing that she was the first line of defense her initial thought was not repeatable to polite society, but the second was “Holy Smokes, am I the best plan they’ve got?”
Apparently…in that case. Yes.
In the case of God’s plan of salvation…always. God has always chosen to work with folks that may not see themselves as best equipped. Folks like you and me. And often we’re left thinking “You’re kidding right? I’m the the best plan you got?”
Yes. You are. You are part of God’s plan.
Because it’s not just you working for the glory of God or to bless the world. But it’s about you using those gifts…those glorious gifts to better the world in Jesus’ name. In the next few weeks you’re going to be finding out more about those gifts that you received like Tyler will be receiving today. And yes…you are one of the best plans that God has got…and God is going to use you. Jump in my friends, sometimes it’s a bumpy ride!