Luke 9: 28-36 (37-43a) – Transfiguration Sunday – for Sunday, February 10, 2013
“Just then a man from the crowd shouted…” (Luke 9:38)
Let’s start with the obvious . . . every day is a series of interruptions.
Or this . . .
“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans,” John Lennon famously wrote in Beautiful Boy, a song with lyrics inspired by his son.
And so, what interrupted you today?
Was it your colleague at work who asked, “Do you have a minute?” And an hour or a day later, you glare at today’s (or yesterday’s) to-do list and realize you still haven’t started #1.
Was it one of the kids in the classroom where you teach that gets an “owie” just before you start your brilliant lesson on fractions or George Washington’s adventures at Valley Forge?
Was it the fender bender in the parking lot?
Mine, a few days ago, was the call from my older sister at an early morning time when she (almost) never phones . . . and suddenly my day is filled with worries about Mom’s health.
Interruptions mean certain things won’t get done. Most interruptions are never considered for the to-do list’s Top 10 at the outset of the day. But they arrive, a tidal wave on the shore of life, a sudden gust of wind knocking off your cap or, worse, knocking a tree branch into the sensible, necessary plans you made for your tidy and kempt day.
Alas, the world is unfair and unkempt.
In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus and his disciples depart a mountaintop. Up there in the clouds, a voice had announced, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him . . .” Even before “What’s on the agenda for today?” can be said, our hearty sojourners are confronted by . . .
Luke has a fellow bellow from the crowd:
Teacher, I beg you to look at my son; he is my only child . . .
The father with the broken down child is not on any to-do lists.
Humans make plans, God guffaws. Or maybe the Holy weeps.
John Lennon’s Beautiful Boy appeared on his album Double Fantasy, released in mid-November of 1980. I suspect the right-before-Thanksgiving date was market strategy, a plan for hitching a ride on the Christmas sales. Three weeks after the record hit the stores, Lennon was murdered. And a beautiful boy became a fatherless child.
With interruptions, it’s tempting to dwell on the terrible and miserable, those knife wounds to the soul that rearrange our day or life. But that wouldn’t be fair.
Humans make plans, the Holy surely must chuckle some of the time.
I firmly believe it’s only because of an interruption that I was ready to meet the wonderful person who became my wife. She arrived one fine Sunday in October, a visitor in the back row of the chapel where I was about to preach. A few weeks after her visit, she was in my office asking what she could do around the church. Soon she helped with the youth group. A few months more and we were dating. About a year after meeting, we were engaged.
But first, before she attended worship, there was an interruption courtesy of a granite outcropping. While leading a youth backpack in the previous July, I had an accident—my left leg slammed into a very sturdy chunk of rock—and my days, weeks and months were painfully interrupted. Before I met the immovable rock, I’d become a guy who looked great on the outside, but was a mess on the inside. I’d gone through a divorce a few years before and felt ashamed. I figured—which is to say, I made plans—that getting “better” was up to me. I could heal my own misery. I refused to admit I needed help. And then I couldn’t do anything—anything—on my own. Breaking my leg finally broke open my soul. Breaking my leg, wearing a cast from hip to toe, confronted my artificial self-sufficiency and rampant self-pity.
If I’d met my future wife before a broken leg interrupted my pathetic plans, I’d never have been able to see her beauty, or allowed my own ugliness—and my own assumed worthlessness—to be seen and healed by her.
A broken leg—an interruption, if you will—became a blessing.
Humans plan. The Holy breaks out in laughter.
In the Luke account, where Jesus heals the broken child of the bellowing father, we learn the disciples continue not to get it. They witness Jesus’ good deeds, still wondering who he is. They witness healing, but hem and haw. They witness the proclamation of the “good news” and yet remain defensive and dim-witted.
Maybe they won’t “get it” until Jesus is broken, when a cross becomes a cosmic interruption. I’ll let you ponder that theological truth or dare.
But there is also this, as we stumble down the mountains of life . . . today, in large or small doses, you will face an interruption.
Here comes your colleague, asking for only a moment. Here comes that child with a little “owie.” There’s the phone ringing and you wonder who could be calling so early or so late.
And John Lennon sings . . . Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans . . .