A Busy Sermon, Proper 11B
Proper 11B St. Edward’s Wayzata
A few weeks ago I read an op-ed in the New York Times entitled “The Busy Trap” by Tim Kreider. In it, he laments of our tendency towards “self-imposed busyness”, his words struck me, largely because of my own use of the phrase
In college we all had those dry erase boards on our dorm room doors. And, when anyone was working on a paper they would draw the number of required pages for their paper--represented by an empty square--and as they wrote they would color in those squares.
In this way, we knew, how very, very busy the occupant of that particular room was.
And, the conversations would go, like so
"(heavy sigh) I have to write a 20 page paper by tomorrow and I'm only on page 3...I'll be up all night"
"(nod of empathy) yeah, I know! I have a lighting design project due tomorrow and 2, 5 page papers!"
"(another nod...) I was at the lab until 3am last night...I had to have security give me a ride back to the dorm!"
Now this kind of oneuppance when it comes to discussion about our schedules is not unique to college students. And, any of you who are facebook friends with more than a few clergy have probably noted the end of the week scramble “ack, haven’t finished my sermon yet, have to decorate the church for Pentecost before the service and still haven’t found someone to pick up the 100 red balloons we ordered!”
How many of you have had conversations in which the rote response to "where have you been?" is "crazy busy" followed by a litany of work/life/project/events that have been following the speaker around like the proverbial plague of locusts.
“So, David, how's it been?”
“Oh, man, it's been crazy busy! You, know, my eight wives have all been just frantic with the kids. Amnon had the flu and then the rest of the kids all got it. Oh, and my youngest, Jesse, he's STILL not sleeping through the night...up every two hours that one!”
“That's not the half of it, folks are STILL blaming me for Uriah's death and governing Israel and Judah takes up all of my free time...”
Yup, just like us, David was probably, crazy busy.
And, Jesus, Jesus was certainly busy--just when he though he could get away and be alone for a bit all those folk who were like sheep without a shepherd show up. Then, 5,000 people need a meal. Oh, and then...well there is a crowd gathered desperate for healing.
Jesus, definitely, crazy busy. In fact, he couldn’t be bothered to rest on the sabbath--certainly not when folks might need healing.
Yet...the message we hear in scripture today is the enjoinder to rest and the promise that God will give us rest.
Anyone feel rested yet?
A run down on the readings:
A place where no one will disturb them.
Rest from all enemies.
They will become a great “house” (God makes for us a house)
All divisions cease
We are to be built together into a dwelling place for God. (the response, we make for God a house)
“Go and rest”
The notion that we might find rest may seem foolish--so much to do, so many to help, so much hurt in the world--the pain of the world seems to contradict the hope of God. Physically, spiritually, emotionally--the world we live in can be an exhausting place. Just turning on the morning news can deplete us...but in these pieces of scripture we find that our work towards peace and reconciliation goes hand in hand with the gift of rest.
How is it then that rest has become frowned upon in so many circles? The “Protestant work ethic” has never held rest with much reverence. “Idle hands are the devil’s playground”, “a stitch in time saves nine”...I’m worn out just thinking about it. There are so many things on my to do list more important, more pressing, more essential than REST.
Perhaps tho’ it is easier than we think. In a commentary I often look at, a mom with two profoundly disabled children writes,
“I find quiet time with God in the inbetween moments of my life, in the chance moments when all of a sudden the house is quiet and everyone is ok, in the people who show up unexpectedly at exactly the moment I need them. I trust to God to give me the quiet time we need together, but I have given up on having this be a set time... and life happens to other people too often as well to trust that they will always be available when I want them.”
As I reflect on her words, I think of how finding God in between can lead to finding God in the midst of. So perhaps in that spare moment of quiet and rest, the moment just before Jesus gets to shore, there is enough rest to sustain us for the work that is to come.
Is this moment right now, here, an inbetween one, a moment unclaimed, unbidden? Or is it yet another busy time? The good news as I see it is that none of us were too busy to be here this morning. We have gathered and perhaps in our gathering we can find rest within the body of our community--the temple we have built for God out of our lives and our beings. Perhaps, in this very moment we are called to pause and remember--remember who we are, and to whom we belong--and in that remembering find rest.
And, in that remembering perhaps we will also remember that we are all in this together...the pain of my brother or sister is also my own pain. And, in the words most often attributed to Mahatma Gandhi, “No one is free while others are oppressed.”
Because, perhaps it's less about an invitation to rest as it is to an invitation to healing? To wholeness rather than brokenness...both as an individual and as a community.
The Gospel sequence here is: rest, teach, feed, heal. Jesus and the disciples become the house--the place where peace, reconciliation and comfort can be found. The great house of David meets it’s fruition in the body of Christ, the dwelling place for God dwells within all of us. As the dwelling place of God, we in turn are called to offer peace and reconciliation--teaching, feeding, healing, comforting.
All too often the response "crazy busy", is an excuse, a way of avoiding relationship...I know that I have used that stock phrase as a means of giving an excuse, I didn’t call because I was “crazy busy”, I didn’t do what you had asked because I was “crazy busy”, I didn’t visit because I was “crazy busy”.
Clearly, there are moments when these claims of busyness stand in the way of the work of reconciliation. And, I am resolving to take a step back, and ask myself--how busy am I really?
So, “How have you been?” “What have you been up to?”--perhaps for each of us we can find that our reply of, “crazy busy” can give way to one of “living the Gospel”.