It's really hot out. So what am I doing? Baking brownies. Hunh? Yep, baking brownies. We are going to someone's house today to celebrate things going on in their lives and I kept thinking, "what can I bring which shows them I'm celebrating with them?" They have always appreciated anything I made (not sure why, really), but the woman in particular always asks me for brownies if I ask what I can bring. They aren't a special recipe per se. I add a few chocolate chips and maybe a touch of peanut butter, but really, it starts with a box mix, so how special could they be? But that's the point I guess. Someone (me) made them for someone (them). Its a gesture of caring. Being willing to bake on a 90 degree morning.
In the gospel lesson for the sixth Sunday after Pentecost, a glimpse is given into the idea of doing something for Jesus. Two sisters are "entertaining" him and others. But only one is doing the "baking". The other is sitting at the foot of the "teacher" and listening. Frequently, this gospel lesson is held up as an either/or example. You're either a doer or a sitter. And also frequently, it is suggested that the doers are in the wrong here and the sitters are in the right. But I'm not sure that is the point of the story. Because we are all at one time a sitter or a doer. We all have times when we bake brownies or clean up the church kitchen, or give a tissue to a sniffing child. And then there are the times when we receive the brownies, made the mess in the kitchen and have to leave before clean up or we need the tissue. I think Jesus is reminding us that to be a child of God means we are aware of those around us either helping them or allowing them to help us. It is a reciprocal arrangement without thought of who gave first or who receives first. Being gracious--giving grace to others is what Christians are called to do in all situations. But receiving graciously is part of that as well.
Maybe you don't bake. Maybe you aren't so great at clean-ups. But maybe the smile you bestow on the harried woman at the supermarket is just enough of a grace-filled gesture to help her through her day. Maybe opening the door for the older gentleman struggling with a walker is just enough caring to help him believe that there is still some good in the world. We need others either to care for or have them care for us. And God is there for all of us, maybe not with brownies, but with a love that passes all understanding.