Good Friday morning Church Requel!
Today is our last Friday in August. Sigh. Personally, I'll be sad to say "goodbye" to August. But, there's always something special about whatever season we find ourselves in, if we're willing to look for it. For me that something special is tonight's first high school football game of the season. I'll be joining my sister and my dad up at the Norton - Barberton football game. Each year I marvel as the players become younger and younger. Ha!
Mary Martha Story The Requel Way. I'm really excited about our sermon this coming Sunday morning. (Bet you're not surprised. I'm always excited about the sermon. But would you want a pastor who wasn't?)
You remember the story from Luke 10, don't you? Jesus and his disciples are staying at Mary and Martha's house. Martha is doing all the prep work, while Mary is sitting at Jesus' feet. Martha complains to Jesus about her sister and Jesus says that Mary has chosen the one needed thing and it wouldn't be taken away from her.
For some reason that story has always been one of my favorites. Growing up I always heard how we should try to be more like Mary. Sermons about Mary and Martha made out Mary to be the heroine and Martha to be the harsh, work-focused sister. If only Martha could be more like Mary. Sigh.
The problem is that we have a church made up of Marthas. Good thing too! Marthas get things done. I love the Marthas of the world. Marthas are my kind of people. I might have been able to identify with Martha complaining about her sister's assumed laziness, but not so much. My brother and sister are every bit as Martha-like as I am.
We were raised to believe in the value of work. Proverbs 6:6-8, 12:27, 15:19, 19:24 were Bible verses often quoted when the work needed doing. Chores were an expected and assumed part of life. Thank you Dad! "Don't stop when you're tired. Stop when you're done." "Hustle and heart will set you apart." "If you want it. Work for it. It's that simple." "Hard work is your friend."
But in Martha's defense - Jesus never complained about her work. Jesus knew where he could go to get away from all the hustle of the ministry - Martha's house. Jesus knew where he and all his disciples could be cared for - Martha's house. Were there 12 disciples or the 72 last mentioned in Luke? We don't know, but we do know who could handle the whole contingent - Martha! And by the way, where is Lazarus, Mary and Martha's brother, in this whole story of work or sitting at Jesus' feet? Lazarus totally gets a pass!
You want to talk about spiritual depth in relationship with Jesus? Don't get me started. We remember Peter for many reasons, but one of the top is that he confessed Jesus as the Messiah in Matthew 16:16. Guess who the only other person was who did the same thing - Martha! Go ahead. Stop for a moment and read it for yourself in John 11:27.
Ok. I'm going to (almost) stop now. I want to give you a flavor of the talk you're going to hear this Sunday morning. I'll just leave you with one last tidbit, especially for anyone who might not make it Sunday morning to Church Requel. This issue really isn't about Mary sitting while Martha worked. It's not even about Martha's complaint! Yes, you can complain to Jesus! Notice he didn't give her a hard time for complaining. He just said that Mary chose the better option.
Serving Jesus is a wonderful thing. Allowing Jesus to serve you is even better!
For you Martha-like folks that want a head start on Sunday's talk, here are the online sermon notes.
Lots of Participants Sunday! Joining Brandi on the praise team this week are Bessica, Ron, Jan and Stephenie. Jan will be leading our communion time. Ron will be leading our prayer time. When you walk in the door, you'll be greeted by Brian Betts. Be sure to ask Brian about the Ohio Warrior Dash last week! (Sara and Anna got all muddied up too last weekend.) Dan and Ian will be playing their musical instruments. Yay! You can thank Leeanna for the snacks on Sunday. You can thank Dave and Jen for setting up the communion tables for us. Jonathan, Grayden and Cohen will be working the tech booth. Cindy will be teaching our junior highers. Tamira and Karen will be teaching our KidsMin kiddos. Jen and Sara will be teaching in our Nursery. Finally, we can't forget Stephenie and Shelli who have volunteered to stay late and steward our offerings. Thank you again, all you Church Requel Marthas! Ha!
Community Opportunities. We live in a community that needs a lot of help. We live in a country that needs a lot of prayer. Yesterday I met with another dozen pastors from around Mansfield. We talked about the "opportunities" and then we prayed together. I love this monthly meeting and fellowship with other evangelical clergy members. I never feel like I have the time before I go, and then I leave feeling so much better and so much more encouraged. There were two opportunities I want to bring to your attention. If either strikes you as something you want to participate in (and if you've actually read this far) email me back or reply on Facebook and let me know. If there is enough interest, I'll "work" to make it happen.
The first opportunity is a daily miracle that happens every day at 11am on the square in downtown Mansfield. A group who calls itself "People Helping People" have taken it upon themselves to serve a free meal to about a hundred folks every day. Many who are served are veterans. Vivian Winters heads this up. I'm told that there are many different churches and organizations that volunteer to take a turn to serve. There are many open dates where they are looking for people to volunteer to help people. Sure sounds like a Requel idea to me.
You don't have to be registered with a group to help. This past Saturday Mary Kay went down and volunteered. She came back with a great report. (I can't help myself - in this case we have a "Mary" being a "Martha!") Then, yesterday, in the pastors' meeting, this topic came up again. Would you like to be on a team that serves a meal? Email me or reply on Facebook if the answer is "yes."
The second opportunity is so fantastic I believe it could only be Spirit sponsored. How would you like to join together with other churches all over our country in a solemn assembly to pray for our country? It's happening on September 21st and it's called "The Gathering." The Gathering has one purpose: to unite the Body of Christ in America – all believers, regardless of race, age, or denomination – in prayer for forgiveness, wisdom, and provision for our nation. I am told that this event is free of political agendas, merchandise, and ministry tents. No offering will be received. No books will be sold. No personalities will be promoted.
We have the opportunity to participate in the Simulcast at Church Requel! We have the technology to make this happen: the big screen, the computer, the network. It would be just like you are with thousands of others at the Gateway Church in Southlake, TX. Platform speakers include Robert Morris, Tony Evans, Anne Graham Lotz, James Robison, Lysa Terkeurst, John K. Jenkins Sr., Kay Arthur, Sammy Rodriguez, Max Lucado, and Ronnie Floyd. You can check out the whole idea for yourself by going to thegathering2016.com.
If enough of our people are interested in this FREE, two-hour, 8pm Wednesday night, Sept. 21st event, I will "work" to do two things. First, I will clear this with our own leadership team - thank you, leadership team, for holding me accountable! Second, I will invite other downtown churches to participate with us. Wouldn't it be terrific if we united with other churches in our neighborhood while we also united with other churches around the country? Would you like to be a part of The Gathering on Sept. 21st? Email me or reply on Facebook if the answer is "yes."
Indicate your interest! In my old, pre-pastor days, when I was a stockbroker, we would sometimes make an offering of new stock in a new company. We would call our clients and ask ahead of time for "indications of interest." That's what I'm doing with you right now. I'm asking for your interest in either or both of these opportunities. If you write back to me via email or on Facebook reply, then I'll know that this is really something God is doing in the hearts and minds of His people. So let me know as God lets you know!
Membership Class Wraps Up Sept. 11th. One last piece of news... I called or messaged all of our prospective new members this week. We really hit a wall when summer came around. We couldn't find a common time for all of us to finish the last membership class. Good news! Now we have a date and time - Sunday, September 11th, right after church. Sheri has volunteered to make us a simple meal to eat together. So if you're in this class, and you haven't already booked this date/time in your calendar, do it now!!! (says your Martha-like pastor.)
Wrap Up. I'm so keenly aware that God is doing some wonderful things in our midst. Sometimes those "opportunities" come in the form of problems, and Lord knows, we have more than our share of those. But sometimes, God just lays out great "OPPORTUNITIES" for us. They're so obvious that you don't have to be a "Mary" to see them!
Know just how much I love you - each and every one. I hope to hear back from many of you. I hope to see many of you this Sunday morning at 11am. God bless, Pastor Mark