Scripture: Luke 10:38-42
Title: The Better Part
Synopsis: The "better part" that Mary chose is to focus on Jesus. When she did, that time was not taken away from her. This sermon looks at ways that we can find time for "the better part".
38Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. 40But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” 41But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; 42there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”
Our world is busy. While we may claim that we're busier now than ever the truth is that we probably aren't. Every generation has wrestled with and redefined what busy looks like. Although there are some differences in how we are busy, there are many similarities that each generation has faced.
People need to be fed and the dishes done. Clothing must be cleaned. Kids need to be kept busy. Learning has to be accomplished. We say that the world is more complex but how many of the complexities have we created. Cell phones, Facebook and Twitter each bombard us with distractions.
People during the time of Mary and Martha hunted and raised food. What they didn't raise, they usually bought locally. Traders and traveling merchants would bring supplies. Sometimes, they traveled to purchase what they need.
Just as now, life is, was and always will be busy.
So, how do we find time for the “the better part”? How do we create time to spend with Jesus in our hectic busy lives? Can we do it?
Born more than 150 years after the printing of the first Bible, the man who would later become known as Brother Lawrence was born. His name was Nicholas Herman in France but was later changed to Brother Lawrence after being admitted to a monastery. His exact birth date is unknown but is thought to be around 1610.
He accepted Christ at 18 and then became a soldier in the Thirty Year War, He nearly died from an injury sustained in the war. The injury caused disabling pain that he carried for the rest of his life.
After the war, he spent a decade or so wandering in the wilderness. All who wander are not lost. Some go to find themselves. In short, he went find “the better path” by living the life of early religious fathers.
The Project Gutenburg File tells us that Brother Lawrence went on to become a civil servant. As he approached middle age, he entered a monastery as a lay servant. There he became a community cook and later repaired shoes while still volunteering to cook.
Through these later years he not only found time to serve God, but he inspired others. He died in 1691. After his passing, letters were published. The book became “Practice the Presence of God”. Then and now, the life of Brother Lawrenceserves as an example to us on how to claim “the better part”.
So strongly did he believe this that he wrote:
Let us think often that our only business in this life is to please God. Perhaps all besides is but folly and vanity. Brother Lawrence
He could have claimed to have been busy fighting in the field. Or, he could have said that he (like Martha) had work to do in the kitchen. Certainly managing the business, repairing shoes and volunteering kept him busy. Somehow, he found time to walk with God in deep faith.
If he could find time to claim the better part, then we can find ways to seek it also. In our busy lives, that is easier said than done. But there are things that we can do and ways to help us find those moments.
We are often told to set the alarm clock so we can begin our day five minutes early. That seems like a good idea on the surface and it works for some people. However; many of us hear the alarm and then hit the snooze button.
Ten more minutes of sleep! That didn't just cost us the five minutes we originally planned but it cost us an extra five minutes.
Some of us have long drives to work. We can seize this drive time and claim it for God. It too, can be spent in prayer. Playing Christian music helps put us in a prayerful mood and draws us closer to God.
We can pray any time that we do a quiet activity. If you make fishing lures, quilt or knit, then you may have a few moments when you can pray.
Have you ever been stuck forever in a drive through line at the bank or restaurant? Have you ever spent time in a doctor's office waiting room?
The more that we Practice the Presence of God, the more that we will recognize the presence of God. Our prayers don't have to be long. Even a few minutes spent in the presence of God, is the better part. Once we find time, it won't be taken away.