How many times in a day are any of us interrupted? By alarms that wake us up and start the day, by the sounds of our phones going off for text messages, social media alerts, or even old-fashioned phone calls? By friends, family, teachers, news, world? There are all kinds of ways, really, that we are constantly being interrupted. But there is one type of interruption that I’m not sure we always notice: God’s attempts to interrupt our lives.
God’s interruptions – if the Holy Spirit can help us to notice them - to the norms of our lives and communities and world can take all different shapes and forms, and often involve healing and being sent to participate in Christ’s work of love-in-action.
Today, some of our confirmation youth will head to New York City to bring food to folks living on the streets. And they might even share a kind word or smile and they might even receive a kind word or smile back, or in other ways discover that those of us who seek to feed often discover that we are ourselves are also being fed. Sharing food for body and food for heart and soul. The normal things our youth and the adults who are accompanying them might have been doing today – working a part-time job, or hanging out with friends or family outside or playing video games – the normal things that the homeless folks might have been doing or experiencing out on the streets – they will be interrupted. Replaced, at least in part, and interrupted by this love-in-action.
God is a grand interrupter! In our first lesson today, we hear about David – a youth whose life as the youngest son in his family, as a shepherd out in the fields with the sheep, is interrupted when the prophet Samuel comes knocking at his family’s door. And it isn’t David’s strong, good-looking older brothers that Samuel has come for, it is young David. I wonder if David’s older brothers scoffed at David’s being chosen instead of them? I wonder if David himself doubted or had questions in his own mind about his worthiness or about being too young or about what he could accomplish? Yet David goes on to take down the giant Goliath with a single well-aimed stone to the eye. And then become one of Israel’s great kings.
We never know, good people, how one well-aimed stone, one smile or sandwich or other work of love-in-action from our hands and hearts might be participating in taking down one of the evil giants of the world, be it the giant of hunger and homelessness, or other forms of greed and apathy and ignorance.
But we have to let ourselves, we have to let our lives, we have to let our norms and the things we are attached to doing and being and believing – be interrupted! We can always say “no,” …but imagine, just imagine what might happen when with God’s help we say yes.
Indeed, God is the great interrupter. And in more ways than one. You know, many folks in Jesus’s day – 2,000 years ago - believed that physical ailments and injuries were caused by sin, caused by the brokenness of the person who was sick or had some kind of deformity. Maybe that’s not so different from people today who look at someone who is homeless and believe they or their families must have done something wrong in order to end up in that situation. That it is their own fault. But in today’s gospel lesson, when Jesus’ disciples point to a blind beggar, to a blind homeless man sitting alongside the road and ask Jesus who sinned, who did something wrong - this man or his parents - that he is blind, Jesus responds by saying that it was neither. And then Jesus heals the man.
In other words, Jesus interrupts the misconceptions of the day and the human practice of placing blame with a work of love-in-action. In one of his earthly healing miracles, Jesus makes mud and covers the man’s eyes, telling him to go and wash in the pool of Siloam (which means “sent”). And the man goes and his eyes are opened and he is healed.
It can be so tempting to spend our lives and energy blaming and complaining about what is broken and wrong in the world and with people around us. But really, like Jesus alongside the blind man, we are called to replace the world’s blame with love-in-action. And none of us is too young – let’s remember young David with his well-aimed stone – and none of us is too old – we just heard in recent weeks about Abraham and Sarah’s call to new action when they were in their seventies!
But for love-in-action to take place, we as people must allow our lives to be interrupted – our norms to be shaken and changed. We have to allow ourselves to see that we like David are being given a new calling. We, like those first disciples of Jesus, are being invited away from the blaming ways of the world and into participation with God’s new life story of healing and restoration. We must learn that there is one really good interruption, “interrupter” – and that is God.
The truth is that we all need healing, we all need to have our eyes opened, we all need folks to come alongside us with love-in-action. And as we are healed, as our eyes are opened, we can better see, with God’s help, others in need of being discovered by the power of love-in-action. There are too many people in this world in need, too many things wrong and broken for us to simply live with eyes closed and hearts empty. So, how is God calling you to say “yes?” To say “yes” and live with love-in-action?