First Congregational Church
(United Church of Christ)
Greg Briggs,
Interim Pastor

101 State Street
Charlevoix, MI 49720

Sermon ~ July 21, 2019

  1. Prayer and Introduction
    1. “May the words of my mouth, and the meditations of our hearts, be acceptable in your sight, our rock and redeemer. Amen”
    2. Sermon Title – Selah
      1. Pausing to reflect
    3. You are going to be giving part of the sermon – pass out paper
      1. Write down what your regular spiritual practices are
      2. Prayer, Meditation, Bible study, giving back,
  • Will assume that coming to Sunday worship is one of them, since you are all here already
    1. Yet, as the joke goes, going to Church makes you a Christian as much as going to a garage makes you a car.
  1. Continuing education
    1. How many of you are in or came from careers where there was an expectation, if not a requirement, that you continue your education?
  2. Reminder of last week’s scripture – Parable of good Samaritan
    1. Last week’s question from scripture Last week what must I do to get into heaven?
    2. Last week’s scripture had everything we need to get into heaven, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”
    3. Yet even knowing that, the challenge wasn’t in the knowing, but the living out
    4. Today’s gospel reading follows directly after the parable of the Good Samaritan
  3. Martha and Mary
    1. Martha – the lady
    2. Mary – Miriam – Wished for child, bitter, or Rebellious
    3. First layer of meaning – Jesus is breaking cultural norms
    4. Martha is behaving properly before a guest
    5. Mary is doubly rebellious
      1. Isn’t helping serve guests
      2. Is sitting at Jesus’ feet, just as a disciple.
    6. “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things. 42 One thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the better part. It won’t be taken away from her.”
  4. Why was Martha upset?
    1. Wanted to do the same as Mary? Martha was the one who invited him over.
    2. Overworked? – no longer saw the joy in her work
    3. Worry today as well – overworked, not enough people to do everything, fear of scarcity.
      1. no one signed up to do coffee hour this week or next, yet miraculously we still have coffee hour
      2. more is being asked of the church in a transition time
    4. False Dichotomy of Martha \ Mary story
      1. Not one way or another – need both.
      2. Challenge of being Task oriented instead of spirit led
        1. Losing sight of the “why.” Why do we do what we do?
        2. Focused on the task, not on the spirit led purpose
      3. Beyond the extra tasks, we can’t lose sight of the “why” we do this. How has God called this church, in this place, in this time?
        1. Why do we have a coffee hour after worship? – community, hospitality, welcome. Some churches, to give a meal to the hungry
      4. In this time of many things, how can we hear Jesus’ voice reminding us that One Thing is necessary?
    5. Selah – gift of pausing and reflecting
      1. We are human BEings, not human DOings.
        1. How are each of us, and the church, setting time aside?
        2. Beginning of the Transition team discussions we’d bounce back and forth with the question “What is God calling you to be\do?”
      2. How are you listening for the Still Speaking God?
        1. Sabbath – a lost gift of faith
        2. Regular spiritual practices from congregation – read slips
          1. How we keep oriented and refreshed
          2. Critical aspect of self care
        3. Other possible ideas
          1. Refer back to tension of the Sunday school teacher
        4. Praxis
          1. Not forgetting to take time to reflect and pray
          2. Using it to make future actions more focused and God directed
  • Making youth (or any) activities go from good to great
    1. Often it’s the extra 5 minutes of conversation at the end, about the “why”
  1. Lectionary as avoiding the rut
    1. Yet with all of our practices, it’s easy to get comfortable, complacent
    2. Yet the Christian faith should challenge us as it comforts us
    3. How to stay fresh – a form of continuing education
      1. Friend described the pastor he grew up with as an extemporaneous preacher, but it was amazing how many of the sermons were about what was on talk radio on Sunday morning
    4. Lectionary – effort to go through entire Bible, not just the parts we like
    5. Both readings are part of this week’s lectionary
  2. Psalm 52
    1. Describes When we don’t take time to sit at Jesus’ feet
    2. Even more important as we become more empowered
      1. Becoming a Xian makes you into a better version of your self
      2. Danger is thinking the only way to become Xian is to do it the same way you did
    3. Staying focused on what’s important, no longer trying to fill the whole in ourselves with outward, worldly things
      1. Get more money
      2. God is blessing you, helping you do better with what you have
  • Not as a measure of how righteous you are before God.
  1. Giving you more resources to use to further God’s kin-dom.
  2. “God’s expansive love transforms the world”
  1. For some, this Psalm may be shocking and divisive. Others may find it comforting.  Some may find great parallels with what’s going on today, others may think that it doesn’t apply at all
  2. Yet, for all of this, we should continue to put our faith and our lives side by side, and see how they inform one another
  • Conclusion – Guest Hospitality Transforming into Family Hospitality
    1. Instead of here and there, move towards both and
      1. Front door friends, side door friends
    2. Best conversations are the ones that happen in the kitchen
    3. Working together, enjoying together
    4. Breaking down the false dichotomy
    5. Sign in church kitchen “A Sorrow Shared is but half a Trouble \ A Joy That’s Shared is a Joy Made Double”
    6. Find ways to pause, Selah, Sabbath, Praxis
      1. Make whatever you are doing holy, instead of only choosing “holy” things to do




In the Psalms, the word Selah occurs 71 times, yet its precise meaning is mysterious.  It may be a musical notation that means to pause and breath, as many Psalms were originally songs or poems.  Similarly, it may also be an indication to the listener and the reader to pause and reflect on what was just heard.  Listen to today’s lectionary Psalm and be ready to pause and reflect when you hear Selah. You can follow along on page ___________ of your pew Bible or just listen.


Psalm 52

52 Hey, powerful person!
    Why do you brag about evil?
    God’s faithful love lasts all day long.
Your tongue devises destruction:
    it’s like a sharpened razor, causing deception.
You love evil more than good;
    you love lying more than speaking what is right. Selah

You love all destructive words;    you love the deceiving tongue.
But God will take you down permanently;
    he will snatch you up,    tear you out of your tent,
    and uproot you from the land of the living! Selah

The righteous will see and be in awe;
    they will laugh at those people:
“Look at them! They didn’t make God their refuge.
    Instead, they trusted in their own great wealth.
        They sought refuge in it—to their own destruction!”

But I am like a green olive tree in God’s house;
    I trust in God’s faithful love forever and always.
I will give thanks to you, God, forever,
    because you have acted.
In the presence of your faithful people,
    I will hope in your name because it’s so good.



Luke 10:38-42

This familiar story occurs immediately after last week’s reading from Luke, the parable of the Good Samaritan.  You can follow along on page ___________ of your pew Bible or just listen

38 While Jesus and his disciples were traveling, Jesus entered a village where a woman named Martha welcomed him as a guest. 39 She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his message. 40 By contrast, Martha was preoccupied with getting everything ready for their meal. So Martha came to him and said, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to prepare the table all by myself? Tell her to help me.”

41 The Lord answered, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things. 42 One thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the better part. It won’t be taken away from her.”



The Word of God, for the People of God.

Thanks be to God.