320 E College Street, Iowa City, Iowa 52240 Sunday Worship, 7:45am, 9:00am, 11:00am

Pentecost 9, year C

HulmePreacher: Rev. Canon Thomas Hulme.

I. Amos 8:1-12. Two tracts of readings. The first continues the selection from the Prophet Amos-8th C. BC. These are firm demands for justice and God’s concern for the poor. No cheating them by false weights and measures, or selling contaminated refuse for good grain. There will be justice and no one will escape on judgement day. A warning to us II. Colossians 1:15-28. A rich and dense passage. Paul is in prison in Rome; c.61AD. A crisis among the Xns in Colossai. He restates his teaching and opposes speculation about various celestial and cosmic powers that will undermine the supremacy of Christ in the scheme of salvation. Christ is the head of all creation; you share in salvation as long as you persevere and stand firm. III.Luke 10:38-42 SERMON: “Martha was distracted” and “Sarah laughed.” Two great lines in the readings today.

A. The Gospel from Luke and the alternate OT reading are about two strong, competent, take charge women. Martha is like many in this parish. I also know how some of you sympathize with “Martha who was distracted” and irritated with her sister Mary. • Listen to her story again: Jesus and 12 men are invited for lunch. Martha is a good hostess and is trying to get the meal ready and serve these important guests. It is important to her to do things well. However, her sister Mary was not helping. Instead, she had gone in and sat down with the men contrary to Jewish custom while Martha was standing in the corner seeing to the food and dishes. Finally, Martha goes to Jesus and complains, ”Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work…tell her to get up and help.” Instead, He replies “Mary has chosen the better thing to do.” • Oh my. Hardly fair, but this is the Gospel for today and contains good spiritual teaching: OL says that only a few things are necessary for their meal. The one thing really important is to hear the word of God and to keep it. Note how gently he deals with Martha and her irritation.Page 1 He shifts the focus from serving lunch to the spiritual importance of listening to what He was saying. • This is good advice for all of us when duties and obligations distract and irritate us. Keep first things first.

B. The story about the second of these women requires us to shift back 2000 years. It is about old Abraham and his wife “Sarah who laughed” at God’s promises. Now Sarah was also a strong and competent woman. Living in the desert as the wife of a nomadic sheik required hard work and take charge skills. This is her story: • Abraham is sitting in the shade of his tent during the heat of the day while Sara is inside. Three travelers appear and being a good desert nomad, he offers them elaborate hospitality which Sarah and the servants have to prepare. Yahweh, who is one of these strangers in disguise, asks him, “Where is your wife Sarah?” “In the tent.” Now Sarah is childless, and at age 90 is long past her childbearing years and Abraham is older yet. But Yahweh promises him: “I will return to you next year and then your wife Sarah will have a son.” Hidden inside the tent, Sarah laughs at what God promises. Yahweh demands, “Why did you laugh? Nothing is impossible for Yahweh.” In the Bible there are just 13 references to laughter usually to scornful laughter. • The Bible is full of unlikely events and persons and about faith in God and His promises. Here is Abraham and his desire for an heir even though he and his wife are elderly. There is Moses who sees a bush burning that is not consumed and is told to take off his shoes. Elijah flees King Ahab’s wrath and is mysteriously fed in the wilderness. Balaam disobeys Yahweh and it is his donkey who sees the angel baring the way and saves Balaam from death. Naaman the Syrian general with leprosy is told to do something simple to be cured-just bathe in the Jordan River three times. Jacob falls asleep in the wilderness and dreams of a ladder set up between heaven and earth オンライン カジノ and exclaims, “Surely God was in this place and I knew it not.” Our Lord the Son of God is born in a stable, is crucified and rises to glory. And, very unlikely there is Saul the persecutor who becomes Paul the Apostle.

This is my point: Our God seems to have a sly sense of humor and likes to act in unlikely ways and with unlikely people-even persons like us! • Consider a child baptized in this parish knowing little of what that means and yet grows up to become a priest. Consider what may become of many young persons who enter into adult life and who knows what they will become in a few years time. Consider yourselves and how you came to be here at Trinity Church and at this place in your life. Could you have imagined that 5, 10, or 20 years ago? • I have long believed that God has a sly sense of humor and likes a challenge. I know of a priest who said, “Lord, I will never go to that church.” And guess where he was within six month’s time. Consider the woman who said, “I could never fall for such a man much less marry him.” There was a woman I know well who would not let me even enter her house and said, “I will never be an Episcopalian.” She was later ordained and served God faithfully for many years.

C. To close: What shall we make out of these stories about these strong women one of whom was distracted and irritated and the other who laughed at God?

Two points briefly: • 1) In your personal life the Martha story teaches us to Keep first things first. Focus on what is really

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important and do it . • 2) In your Spiritual life beware of testing god and putting Him to a challenge. Beware of telling Him what you think He must do if He would only do it your way. That is the sort of challenge that He likes. • Today you have these stories of two strong women and of good teaching for all of us-both men and women