Dear Friendship and Heath Memorial UMC Families,
We have now experienced our second week of staying home, social distancing, and searching for toilet paper and hand
sanitizer. We are struggling to understand why people we have gone weeks without seeing, or, talking to, we suddenly,
desperately want to see and talk to. I believe it’s due to the simple fact we can’t. We can’t spontaneously go out to eat
in a restaurant, we can’t stand close to someone in line at Walmart or the grocery store, we can’t hug someone or shake
their hand, and for many of us we can’t see our adult children or grandchildren. And the “can’t” none of us ever thought
we’d experience – we can’t go to church! This past Sunday was our second Sunday of being apart and discovering new
ways of being church. It feels strange and I now understand and appreciate what others have meant when they said,
“my week just isn’t right if I don’t go to church on Sunday.” I get it, I’ve actually had to look at the calendar several times
to check and see what day it is! Somehow the days don’t “feel right,” and I guess if I’m honest, somehow I don’t feel
right either. But, I’m trying and I know you are, too. Like many of you I tried a new way of Sunday School. I sat down at
the action center in the kitchen at the parsonage. At 9:45AM Sunday morning I opened my cell phone and clicked on the
link Grady Love sent me for joining the Genesis Class Zoom meeting. Once I joined I heard Grady say, “Karen has joined
us. Karen, would you like to activate your camera so we can see you?” My short, simple, succinct response of “no” was
met with much laughter. I distinctly heard, “well, it is before 10:00AM.” By the way, I know who you are! While the
scripture and lesson the class studied was on “The Transfiguration” many of the insights and comments offered left me with a message from God that resonated with my heart and spirit. It is a profound message for all of us in this
extraordinary time as we struggle, not only to connect with each other, but with God. Stand still for these moments and
know not only that He is God, but hear these words as He calls to you.
(Luke 10:38-42)
And He is calling you. He wants you to open up your life and your heart to Him. He comes to us in the person of His
Son Jesus. In Luke’s gospel we’re told that Jesus is visiting in the home of Martha and Mary. Have you ever wondered
what room they took Him to? I have. I’ve always found it interesting what room people take me to when I make home
visits. Sometimes I’m taken into a formal living room, a den, a kitchen, and one time a plastic chair in a carport! In one
of his books Max Lucado talks about how comfortable we are with Jesus. He asks us to imagine what room in our homes
we allow Jesus to visit in. How many of us keep Jesus in the formal room as if He’s a guest in our homes? Or, perhaps
we take him into the den where he is a friend. Do we sit with him at our kitchen tables over a cup of coffee, or, in my
case Diet Mt. Dew, because He’s a family member? Where can Jesus be found in Martha and Mary’s home? And, now
that we are temporarily unable to worship in our church homes, where can He be found in our personal homes?
And, who is there to spend time with Him? We’re told that Mary sat and listened to Jesus as He talked. That means
there were other people there. I bet the two sisters went out and invited others to come to their home because Jesus
was going to be there. Can’t you hear them, “you’ve got to come to our house, Jesus is going to be there!” They wanted
to share Him. So, who’s there to spend time with Jesus in our homes? Are we? One of my clergy friends told the story
of the time he visited with a family to talk with them about baptizing their baby. He said the TV was on and he could tell
they were more interested in watching it then talking to him. He said the only one really paying attention to him was
the dog. “You know,” he said, “I really was kind of embarrassed when I said the dog’s name during the baptism.” When Jesus comes to our homes, are we really there with Him? Are we excited about sharing Him with our families?
Or, are we just too busy with our worlds? I think that’s what happened to Martha. She was so caught up in her world
– what she needed to do, had to do, her priorities. The Son of God was right there in her home and the only way she
could be with Him was by frantically doing. Mary had her own way of being with Jesus – she simply put everything else
on hold and made Him the only priority. Somehow I think she was familiar with Psalm 46, “be still and know that I am
God.” We all have a choice to make when it comes to “how” we will be with Jesus. That choice is made every day, every
hour, every minute. It’s made by our world, our nation, our state, our communities, our churches, our families, and by
each and every one of us as individuals. At this extraordinary time, because of current coronavirus pandemic, we have
been given the opportunity to “be still and know He is God.” He desires nothing more than to come to us, right where
we are, and to be with us.
So, what will our choice be? Martha chose doing and Mary chose being when it came to receiving Jesus into their
home, their lives, and their hearts. Are you satisfied/fulfilled/at peace with the choice you’ve made and the “portion”
you’ve received? Jesus told Martha that Mary had chosen the “good portion.” But what exactly is the “good portion?”
Some of my most memorable pastoral experiences have occurred during communion. One time I had my Lay Leader
assisting me. We were going to be celebrating communion by intinction, meaning one chalice and dipping a piece of
bread into the grape juice. I gave the Lay Leader a piece of bread and when I turned back around with the chalice she
had eaten the bread. I simply tore off another piece of bread and offered it to her. She looked at me and said, “No
thanks, I’ve had enough.” To which I replied, “you can never have enough too much of Jesus!” I believe that’s how
Mary felt. She could never have too much of Jesus and while He was with her she was going to receive all that she
could. That is the good portion:
 she sat at the feet of Jesus – in other words, she was being with Jesus. When was the last time you were just with Him?
 she listened to Him instead of doing all the talking – when was the last time you sat in silence and listened for His voice?
 she drank in His teaching – not the world’s teaching, but the authoritative words of God which provide a moral compass and establish standards for those who become followers of Christ, and which provide transforming, healing words of grace, love, and redemption for all who have ears to hear.
Do you remember what Jesus said about the “good portion?” He said it could not be taken from Mary. In other words,
smaller portions – just getting bits and pieces of Jesus here and there, when you have time and aren’t too busy – they
can be taken from you. Satan can and will do that! He desires nothing more than to keep people from Jesus. We can
not allow him to use this coronavirus pandemic to do that. Use this time wisely and don’t decide that you’ve had
enough of Jesus and that your portion is good enough! May our choice always be, “Give me Jesus.”
In Christ’s Love,
PS: This coming Sunday look for a video Sunday worship service on friendshipumc-rockhill.org/
the Friendship Facebook page, and hopefully the Heath Memorial Facebook page