On Sunday August 2nd our minister Rev. Christine Gillespie led worship at Wesley Chapel. We began worship when we sang ‘Jesus calls us here to meet him’ before Christine led the opening prayers and the Lord’s Prayer. We sang ‘Lord we have come at your own invitation’ before we said Psalm 100 responsively. Our worship leader Christine read the gospel from Luke 10v38-42. We then sang ‘Father hear the prayer we offer’ before Christine preached.
Christine said that we could be lost, in a wrong place with no map in the middle of nowhere. We may be in the wrong place in life, in the wrong job, in the wrong relationship? If we are in a wrong place do we need to take some action? Sometimes we might be where we are meant to be in the right fellowship but feel awkward and out of place, as Christine did when she was with 40 deaf people; they communicated with each other but Christine did not have the skills to communicate with them and felt isolated all afternoon and out of place.
Jesus and his disciples visited Martha and Mary and hospitality was expected in that culture. Jesus was a friend and ye they had to offer hospitality to all who came with him and care properly for all the visitors. Those who offered hospitality did not know how many were coming or how long they were staying. It was more than a duty to entertain those who came to visit. Martha was busy in the kitchen catering for all the visitors, whilst Mary did not help as she was sitting and listening to Jesus.
There was a culture of segregation then; only the women did the task of serving the guests. There were jobs for women and jobs for men. Martha knew Mary was in the wrong place; she should have been in the kitchen helping her look after the guests. Lazarus as the brother was in the right place as he was a man whose place it was to be waited on by the women. Martha felt annoyed that Mary was not in the correct place helping her and others probably shared her view that women had their own jobs to do. Christine wondered if Mary recognised that she was in the wrong place, and although she stayed, felt out of place.
A woman who lived for 5 years in Saudi Arabia did not think it would have been possible for Mary to forget she should have been elsewhere. Mary did however claim her place to listen to and learn from Jesus. The lady saw how separate men and women were in Saudi Arabia; separate outings, separate cinemas, separate gyms; there was a women’s section of the mosque. Women were dressed in black and men in white; Mary would have felt totally at home in Saudi Arabia nowadays.
Jesus disagreed with Martha; he knew he needed rest and food but he was not bound by tradition. Jesus did not exclude people for gender, race or disability, so he would not exclude Mary as tradition stated; instead he insisted she was in a better place. Jesus did not consider children in the wrong place but welcomed them. He stretched out his hand to those suffering from leprosy, to the Samaritan woman, all those normally excluded.
What does that say to us in our church and community? It is sometimes easier to conform to social norms rather than being out of our depths. We don’t like change; are we in the right place? Should we be listening in the pew or preaching in the pulpit? Are we being called to some new pathway? How will we respond? Christine reminded us of the review we had recently had at our chapel. Are we in the right place? We have in the last month started a new fellowship group which actually meets at our house. Jesus called people to be his disciples and calls us to follow him. Now we are called to a new place, God is always on the move. Martha felt frustrated that Mary was in the wrong place; Mary knew she was unwelcome and in the wrong place but stayed. What about ourselves? Will we feel that challenge? Will we follow the lead of Jesus?
We sang ‘Lord you call us to your service’ before Christine celebrated communion. Our worship ended as we sang ‘Lord for the years your love has kept and guided’ and we gave thanks for having been fed with the body and blood of Jesus, before the final blessing and dismissal. It was a worshipful and thought provoking act of worship.