Last week we heard Jesus say, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”
This Sunday’s Gospel passage picks up there with a long passage about prayer. It is not an accident. “The one thing needed is to pray,” as I keep reminding the children, and as one of our hymns for this Sunday says.
This has always been true. Human wisdom and higher power come through the humility of quieting our ego’s ambitious and anxious thinking and listening to the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit within us. As Jesus says this week, “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Luke 11:1-13)
It is counter-intuitive and difficult to break the addiction of compulsive thinking and reacting, but the greater the challenges we face the greater the need and benefit from this one thing of setting aside our thinking and reacting and doing what looks like nothing. Prayer is the door that opens onto the sacred way, the best way through whatever situation lies before us on our journey. Jesus makes a startling connection in the Luke passage, saying that the Holy Spirit is the daily bread for which we pray. Opening to the Spirit through contemplative, listening, mindful and heartful prayer will lead us to the consciousness and vision we need for any difficult situation or new stage of our life or for this most critical time on earth.
We will read from Psalm 138 that has the beautiful line, “On the day I called, you answered me, you increased my strength of soul.” The service will be full of beautiful music as well, piano pieces by Bach, Handel and Schumann, the beloved hymns “I Sing the Mighty Power of God” and “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee,” and it will be a great Sunday to be in the choir if you enjoy singing songs with soul: “I Woke Up This Morning,” “Precious Lord, Take My Hand,” and Carole King’s “Way Over Yonder” as our Choral Benediction.
Here is an extraordinary performance of “Way Over Yonder.”