June 4, 2008

Holy Interruptions

Filed under: Faith Matters — Pastor Tim @ 10:10 am

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.”  Matthew 9:9

While [Jesus] was saying these things to them, suddenly a leader of the synagogue came in and knelt before him, saying, “My daughter has just died; but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.”  Matthew 9:18

Then suddenly a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his cloak.  Matthew 9:20

You know how frustrating it is.  You sit down with your family to enjoy a nice, warm piece of baked chicken, and the phone rings.  “The extended warranty on one or more of your cars is about to expire.”  In actual fact, the warranty on your car is good for another two years, or it has expired five years ago.  But someone thinks they can make some money, so they program their company’s automatic phone dialers to intrude upon your meal time.

In this week’s gospel reading, first Jesus is the interrupter - calling Matthew from the midst of his efforts to balance his tax books.  But shortly thereafter Jesus is the interruptee - he is speaking to disciples of John the Baptist when a synagogue leader intrudes to get him to attend to his dead daughter; then as he’s traveling with this leader, a hemorrhaging woman imposes upon his journey as she seeks healing for herself.

“Life is what happens while we’re busy making other plans,” goes a popular saying.  We must make plans and schedules, but we must also be ready for them be interrupted.  Indeed, many of life’s greatest blessings have to intrude and redirect our lives:

  • A baby blesses the life of a parent, but also disrupts all the familiar routines
  • A committed life-partner provides support through life’s journey, but also imposes his/her own life-situation on one’s own
  • A job opening provides expanding career opportunities, but also carries requirements for new learnings and for taking on new responsibilities

Not every interruption is the call of God, of course - especially not those mealtime telemarketers!  But a major part of our spiritual growth needs to be the developing of the ability to recognize God’s intrusions.  The call to make a contribution of time or talent or treasure towards some new ministry often feels like an interruption; but it is often how God seeks to work in our world.

Until God is finally finished shaping our lives, God will have to intrude upon our other plans.  May we find the grace to welcome these interruptions.

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