Between Sundays Logo

Between Sundays for Week of July 18, 2022

How do we respond when Jesus shows up? The story of Mary and Martha that we heard on Sunday gives us two possible responses. Are we “worried and distracted by many things” like Martha or are we ready to “sit at Jesus’ feet and listen” like Mary?

We know the right answer.  “Mary has chosen the better part,” Jesus says. We may imagine that to mean we should drop everything and spend our days immersed in prayer and Bible study…and we may feel guilt that we are somehow not good enough Christians when we find ourselves more like Martha, more consumed by worry and easily distracted by all the things.
But Martha was doing all the right things – in fact that phrase, “she was distracted by many tasks” – is actually better translated that she was distracted by all the diakonia, all the service, all the ministry.  She was busy doing what she was called to do.  But she missed the most important thing.  She missed the gift of Jesus’ presence right in front of her.
Jesus himself may not knock on our door, but Jesus draws near to us in the face of our neighbors, in the face of the people we meet each day. And we still have the choice of how to respond.  Do we stay busy and distracted with our many tasks?  Or do we stop and pay attention?

This week, I invite you to pay attention to the people we encounter. What do we notice when we pay attention…setting down our electronics long enough to really listen to the people with whom we share a house? …offering more than a cursory wave to the people we pass on the street? …asking a colleague about what they are looking forward to?
Pastor Amy and I are practicing the art of paying attention as we interview people for our Living the Word podcasts.  In every conversation, I’ve learned something new about someone’s life or their diakonia – their service in the world.  I have glimpsed the face of Christ in them! I have been encouraged to seeing the body of Christ active and alive in the world.  That paying attention has been a gift.  It has strengthened my faith, reminding me that Jesus is here, and I hope those conversations do the same for you.
When we choose to pay attention, when we notice Jesus drawing near in the face and voice and stories of one another, we just might find ourselves drawn to love and serve God in new ways!

The Word Logo

Pastor Hoffman reflects on the ways that Jesus draws near to us in the faces of one another. When Jesus shows up, are we “worried and distracted by many things” like Martha or are we ready to “sit at Jesus’ feet and listen” like Mary? When we choose to pay attention to the people in front of us, in the  voices and stories of one another, we take the risk of being drawn to love and serve God in new ways.


Hymns are prayers set to music.  Listen to this one to help you pay attention to Jesus drawing near to you this week!

Open our eyes, Lord,
we want to see Jesus,
to reach out and touch him,
and say that we love him.
Open our ears, Lord,
and help us to listen.
Open our eyes, Lord,
we want to see Jesus.

(Text and Music by Robert Cull; Hymn #98 in This Far By Faith)

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Between Sundays for Week of August 15, 2022

Today, August 15, marks the day that the church commemorates the feast of Mary, the Mother of our Lord. We know Mary best from her powerful song, the Magnificat: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God, my Savior . . .” (Luke 1:46). Lutherans haven’t traditionally paid much attention to Mary apart from Advent and Christmas, which is unfortunate. She is part of the “great cloud of witnesses” that surrounds us and she has lots to teach us!
As Pastor Amy reminded us in her sermon on Sunday, Jesus grew up in a household where the song his mother was known for also included the words: “God has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.” (Luke 1.52-53). Jesus’ faith formation took place in an environment where resistance to the status quo, a willingness to challenge power, and an understanding of God’s longing for justice was part of the music of daily life. (Imagine dinner around that table!)
Knowing this helps us make sense of Jesus’ hard words in Sunday’s gospel: “I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled. . . . Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” In his words, Jesus isn’t advocating for division in and of itself. Jesus knows that living into God’s vision of justice and embracing God’s reign does not just happen. It takes questioning the ways things are. It requires challenging assumptions. And none of that happens without some disruption of peace . . . or even more.
Conflict is part of the life of faith. People won’t always agree with the stances we take in the name of extending God’s grace and mercy. Yet even there, Jesus is with us, helping us interpret the times and walking with us through the heat.
The Word Logo

As we continue following Jesus on his path to Jerusalem, the tone of his speech changes in today’s gospel as he asks, “Do you think I have come to bring peace on earth?” Pastor Amy reminds us that the peace Jesus brings is not a fake peace of denial and dishonesty, but a deep, life-changing peace that kindles us to seek more of God’s lovingkindness for this world, even when it leads us into conflict.


In the Bible, faith is never a matter simply for an isolated individual. It involves a community of persons that stretches back into the past, embraces people in the present, and anticipates a fellowship in the future. Faith involves a “cloud of witnesses” to God’s continuing faithfulness.

Paul Hammer, in Word Among Us

Who is part of your cloud of witnesses – representing past, present and future – that reminds you of God’s continuing faithfulness?