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Itís A Matter Of Rhythm
July 18 and 19, 1998

LUKE 10:38-42

How would you like to be invited to dinner, and the hostess sat and visited with you, hanging on your every word, actively listening-- instead of cooking! I rise to the defense of Martha! What would Jesus have done if both Mary and Martha had sat at his feet, listening rather than preparing his meal? How long before Jesus would get hungry (he was human, you know!), and hint that perhaps one of them might get less "spiritual" and prepare dinner!

Of course, we only have the conversation that has been printed in Luke; we donít have the whole picture of what went on before. Itís like getting involved in childrenís squabbles. Stay out of them because you donít know what caused the fight. Itís often the supposed victim that gets the other one in trouble. We donít know what went on at the Martha and Mary house that prompted the reported conversation.

What we do know is that churches would be in big trouble if it werenít for the Marthas! Itís the Marthas who prepare and conduct the estate sales (Saturday, they held two estate sales, simultaneously, and one of the houses was not air-conditioned!), teach Sunday School, Bible School, and CATCH. Itís the Marthas who produce bazaars, cook meals, plan events, sing in the choir and Wings of Hope.

Itís the Marys who pray. Itís the Marys who undergird all that we do with prayer. They give a minimum of one hour per week when one by one, they come to the Prayer Room to pray; in addition to the praying they do at home.

Of course, the point is that a church needs both Mary and Martha. Itís a matter of balance. And, in your own life, you need balance. Itís a matter of rhythm. The title I first chose for this sermon was "The Rhythm Method," but somehow thought I might be misunderstood!

As a child and youth, I belonged to a 4-H club. In fact, I was at a county 4-H function when the news came that victory had been declared in Europe, V-E Day. I can remember a group of us walking and talking about the victory. 4-H clubs were organized in 1914 to help rural youth learn more about agriculture and to develop good citizenship. 4-H has since broadened to include urban youth as well. It is an excellent organization, and the genius who designed the emblem of the four leaf clover, motto, and pledge is to be commended. Can you name the four Hs? Head, hands, heart, and health. The motto is "To Make the Best Better" and the pledge is "I pledge my Head to clearer thinking, my Heart to greater loyalty, my Hands to larger service, and my Health to better living for my Club, my Community, and my Country."

Letís take the four Hs and apply them to our lives. I prefer the four Hs as a description rather than the old Greek description. Mind, body and spirit leaves out the hands, the doing which Martha embodies. To live successfully, productively, in relation to God and one another is a matter of rhythm, rhythm between head, heart, hands and health. Take a look this summer, beginning today, at how well you are balancing.

Donít overlook your head. Paul wrote in Romans 12:2, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God-- what is good and acceptable and perfect." Keep renewing your mind. Get some new ideas in your head. Keep growing, not shrinking. Read some good books. Take some classes. Keep studying the Bible. Join a Bible class. We offer two on Sunday mornings. We would like to offer the Disciple Bible study again this fall, when some teachers step forward. Donít overlook your head. What kind of life are you living if you are a healthy, spiritual doer with an empty head, without a new idea in years?

In an effort to stimulate your head, to stimulate your thinking, here are some questions for you to ponder:

If a parsley farmer is sued, can they garnish his wages?

Is there another word for synonym?

When sign makers go on strike, is anything written on their signs?

Would a fly without wings be called a walk?

Why donít sheep shrink when it rains?

If a man is standing in the middle of the forest speaking and there is no woman around to hear him, is he still wrong?

How do they get the deer to cross at that yellow road sign?

What do you do when you see an endangered animal eating an endangered plant?

Donít overlook your head and donít overlook your health. Take time and concern for your body. Your body is the only one you have and the only one you will ever have. Your body is a gift from God. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 6:19, "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body." Take care of your body. It is not a virtue to work your body to ill health. Itís a matter of rhythm. There is a time to work, there is a time to rest. Exercise. Keep your body in shape. Watch what you put in your mouth. Eat nutritional food. Take food supplements. Drink lots of water.

Itís a matter of rhythm. Taking care of head, health, hands and heart will lengthen your life. From e-mail, an observation about aging that is making the rounds through retirement communities.

Do you realize the only time in our lives when we like to get old is when weíre kids? If youíre less than 10 years old, youíre so excited about aging you think in fractions. How old are you? "Iím 4 1/2" Youíre never 36 1/2; youíre 4 1/2, going on five!

You get into your teens; now they canít hold you back. You jump to the next number. How old are you? "Iím gonna be 16." Even when youíre 12, youíre gonna be 16!

And then the greatest day of your life happens-- you become 21. Even the words sound like a ceremony-- you BECOME 21...YESSS!!

But then you turn 30-- oh, oh, what happened there? Makes you sound like bad milk... He TURNED, we had to throw him out. Thereís no fun now.

Whatís wrong?? What changed?? You BECOME 21, you TURN 30, then youíre PUSHING 40-- itís all slipping away! You BECOME 21, you TURN 30, youíre PUSHING 40, you REACH 50-- and your dreams are gone.

Then you MAKE IT to 60-- you didnít think youíd make it! Then you build up so much speed you HIT 70! After that, itís a day by day thing. You HIT Wednesday. You get into your 80s, you HIT lunch.

It doesnít end there. Into the 90s you start going backwards. I was JUST 92.

Then a strange thing happens. If you make it over 100, you become a little kid again--- Iím 100 1/2!!!

Donít overlook your head, your health, or your hands. The 4-H pledge is "I pledge my hands to larger service." If you concentrate on your head, your health, and your heart you will end up a selfish, ingrown, narrow taker. God blesses you with an agile mind, a spiritual heart, and good health so that you can do Godís work. If you are only a sponge, you end up a taker, a receiver, not good for much, and very unhappy, because you are missing the purpose of your life. What are you doing for others that is unselfish, with no thought of return? What work do you do, not work for money, but work for the Lord that is of larger service?

One day a woman stood in the midst of a group of starving children in Ethiopia, their bodies ravaged with hunger, their fearful eyes bulging from their listless faces. She said she wanted to scream out at God until she realized THAT GOD WAS SCREAMING AT HER. God was screaming at her to do something about it. God was screaming at her to care about the children, to act in love, to pledge her hands to larger service. What is God screaming at you? What is there for your hands to do? The poet said it well, "Christ has no hands but our hands to do his work today."

Donít overlook your head, your health, your hands, or your heart. Mary was taking care of her heart (and renewing her mind) by sitting at the feet of Jesus. Itís a matter of rhythm. Ignoring your heart, your need of fellowship with the Lord, leads to a healthy intelligent doer who runs out of gas, who burns out, disconnected to the source of power. Living the lifestyle of Jesus is a matter of rhythm, of balance. Youíve heard enough talking. I talked about head, health, and hands. Let me sing about the heart. "If with all your heart ye truly seek me, ye shall ever surely find me," set to music by Mendelssohn in Elijah.

ã 1998 Douglas I. Norris