God in the Interruptions (Christmas Eve Reflection)

[audio http://www.opcbrookhaven.org/worship/audio/sermons/12-24-09-02.MP3]Isaiah 9:2-7 Luke 2:1-20

In both the Isaiah and Luke lessons, there is this theme of God at work. The strange thing is that God is at work in interruption. Which reminds me of a “knock knock” joke: Knock Knock. Who’s There? Interrupting Cow. Interrupting C… Mooo!

God’s movement is an interference with the “way things are.” Isaiah’s prophecy speaks of wars being interrupted by peace and of power being interrupted with childlike vulnerability.

Mary and Joseph, the focus of the New Testament lesson, seem to live their lives in interrupted fashion: the arrival of the Christ child, the necessity of a long journey to Bethlehem so close to the delivery date. Angels barge into their way into the shepherds’ sky, and the shepherds rush to the stable, providing yet another interruption for the young couple.

The story goes on from there, with Magi arriving from the Far East, the young family fleeing to Egypt rather than face the wrath of Herod’s jealous rage, and so on. Every moment that the story seems to be on “steady feet,” that seems to be when the interruption is most likely to come.

We have a rule in our house: if you want to speak when someone else is talking, you ask if you can interrupt. I still think that’s a pretty good rule, and I’m not one thinking that interruptions are a good thing. But what do we make of this, in a world where we do our best to keep our lives ordered? Does it mean that we should throw all caution to the wind and take whatever comes? I don’t think so…Instead, I think it might be worthwhile to pay attention to the interruptions when they do come. We might find God there instead of where we’ve been looking.

It was about two years ago that I was late for a Presbytery meeting. I pulled up to the church, and finally found a spot in the cold and rain. As I hustled toward the meeting, I saw a lady who was desperately trying to change a flat tire. I almost walked by her, but at the last moment, my conscience got the best of me. I stopped to help her. By the time I had finished, I was soaked, head to toe. But I never felt better.

The story would be much better if she had paid me or if I had gotten something pleasant out of the deal or had avoided something unpleasant by staying outside. The truth is, none of that happened. But for her, the interruption in my life was a grand relief to her. And I just felt better. Especially after I found a cup of coffee.