Saturday, December 9, 2017

Martha and Mary in service if the Lord

Martha and Mary in service of the Lord

By Rev Dr Levee Kadenge
Martha and Mary were sisters. Their brother was Lazarus. At one point Jesus visited them at their house.

The scripture says: As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed — or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10 v 38-42)

The two women waited upon the Lord in different ways. One was prepared to listen to the Lord while the other one was ready to work for the Lord. Such was the plight of the sisters — of the one who worked for the Lord and the one who sat down to listen to the Lord, which one was doing the right thing?

The great news was that both ladies were prepared to serve the Lord. One was working for the Lord by preparing food for him while the other one was working for the Lord by just sitting under his feet to give Him her ear. She wanted an understanding of the Lord’s work and to learn. Both acts constitute working for the Lord in the scheme of worship.  

What did the Lord do? The Lord understood that they were working for him in different ways, each one doing her own thing.

Each one of them did her part whole-heartedly. They worked very hard to please him. He was the centre of attraction.

People work for the Lord in different ways. They indeed would be doing well for the Lord. However, whatever work that a person does for the Lord should be done to the best of one’s ability. We cannot all be doing the same thing for the Lord because we are gifted differently. You do not want to think you are the only worker in the kingdom. All are called to serve.

When one chooses to work for the Lord, it must always be in the best interest of the kingdom of God. Naturally, we care for what we do as individuals and care less for what others are doing for the same Lord. We want to take the prize, but it is not a competition. What images are we projecting when we compete in the house of the Lord? We cannot be said to be working for the Lord yet not take notice of what others are doing for the same kingdom.

We do right when what we do fulfils the aspirations of the one we are working for. The Lord understands that His people are working for the kingdom and each one is doing their best to serve Him. As a collective, we must realise is that we are all working for the Lord. The Lord is the personhood to work for in all our small ways.

All people were created to work for the Lord in one way or the other. Do not be discouraged, discover your talent and work for the Lord to the best of your ability.

In this case, Mary was listening to the Lord while Martha was working in the kitchen then Martha complained that Mary did not care to help her. She was just sitting doing nothing listening to the Lord. This must have annoyed Mary because she was doing something. She was working. She was learning. She was doing her best under the circumstances. But the sister could not appreciate the kind of work Mary was undertaking. Jesus then said Mary had chosen what would not be taken away from her — an education.

They could have been doing the same thing but the other one chose to work for the Lord in a different way. When you have chosen to work for the Lord, you can either be doing the work at his feet or you can do it in the glare of everyone. When you are working for the Lord you should not be surprised to hear that other people are doing the same. No one should rubbish your efforts.
Whatever you are doing, you are free to work for the Lord in the way you can. Nothing is impossible. You can work for the Lord even in secret. There is no work which is lesser than the other. All is invaluable work when you do it in the name of the Lord.  
Many people like to be seen to be doing more for the Lord. They crave for an audience. Just doing something is enough, people do not matter. Their comments do not matter. Their acts of discouragement do not matter. Their competitive spirits do not matter. In the greater scheme of things, only God counts.  
Let those with ears hear.

l Levee Kadenge is a theologian at United Theological College. He can be contacted

at leveekadenge@gmail.com

Sunday, November 26, 2017

The church: The first steps towards unity

The church: The first steps towards unity

For years we have not known that the church is one. The church has always been one, but later got separated. This happened several years ago beginning with Martin Luther, the man behind the movement in 1517. He was a priest theologian who was firm.

He nailed 95 theses on the door of the church. Little did he know that what he had started was what was going to divide the church for a long time.

Most Protestants were brought to Harare to celebrate the coming back of the two greatest movements of all time. The Catholic Bishops Conference in Zimbabwe (CBCZ) also brought their members to this grand accession at the St Marys All Saints in Harare. This was a grand gathering to celebrate the coming together of the churches after a long time.

Among the invited dignitaries were officials from City of Harare including the mayor Bernard Manyenyeni. Many representatives from different churches from the city were also present. Diplomats were also present.

The chairperson of the Roman Catholic church said, “It is important that we can meet for joint worship on the eve of October 31, the date associated with the reformation. We meet with mixed feelings. On one hand we celebrate the renewal of the church through the ministry of Martin Luther and other reformers; but we also lament the divisions of the church of Jesus Christ. For this reason, we meet here today to both celebrate and repent.”     
For its part, the Zimbabwe Council of Churches said “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death? Therefore, we have been buried with him by the baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the death by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in the newness of life.  For if we have been united with him in a death like this, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.”
Thereafter the churches lamented together the many years they have been separated as if they were not children of one Lord.

For a long time, the church became fragmented and formed societies within societies. It is not the members’ fault as the labels are a norm. Unfortunately, there was no attempt for a long time to meet and celebrate the church as one entity. No wonder there were members in attendance who did not know that the church in this fractious form is divided.    

The church has continued to meet like nothing had gone wrong. The new Protestant movement and the old Catholic Church had not known a united church. This was the first time they had come together.

I have written somewhere that the divided church that we inherited seemed normal. We have even celebrated division in the manner we have conducted business. However, the church is better when it comes together.

The church was encouraged by the Second Vatican Council, “[to] gladly acknowledge and esteem the truly Christian endowment from our common heritage which are to be found among our separated brethren. It is right and salutary to recognise the riches of Christ and the virtuous works in the lives of others who are bearing witness to Christ, sometimes even to the shedding of their blood. For God is always wonderful in His works and worthy of all praise.” In this, Catholics and churches of the Reformation are called to embrace each other as sisters and brothers in the Lord.

This was followed by an apologetical song. A song that showed both the Catholics and the Protestants that they are contrite for the sins of the day. The sins of staying away from each other when they were supposed to be together worshipping as sons and daughters of one Lord and one faith. Instead of working together by bringing people together and thereby demonstrating that the word was brought out here to bind us together, the church was divided with each doing its own thing.

Men and women from across the divide put aside their differences to come to a demonstration of love and acceptance at the cathedral. The Anglican church was magnanimous in that they rose above the occasion and demonstrated they can be one with the rest and worship God in one spirit.

The atmosphere was electrifying in all the procedures that were taking place in the place of worship. Each leader took people from one stage of worship to the other. Nothing was left to chance and all those who had come to worship said it was worthwhile. The denominational atmosphere which was in the worship place was because it was the first time such a service had been held.
All congregants wanted to witness what the churches could do together. The churches left no stone unturned to demonstrate that the church is one. At least for an hour it was one church that was founded by Jesus Christ when he established it in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
We hope that the church shall work towards unity. It was only the name of the Lord that was exalted. After the service the people discussed why they had kept each other at arm’s length. They all left the congregation happy, knowing that they have come from a service that was graced by God. Let
those with ears hear.
l Levee Kadenge is a theologian based at United Theological College. He can be contacted on leveekadenge@gmail.com.
*As The Standard celebrates 20 years, it pays tribute to the late Bornwell Chakaodza who was editor of the paper from 2002 to 2005.