Monday, December 16, 2013


We have all had those moments.
We have those moments when we have to get things done and we have a plan to get it done.
We have a tight schedule and only a few hours/minutes to get something done.
And then we get interrupted.
A friend calls who really needs to talk.
A family member stops by for “a minute”.
The kids’ school calls because they are sick.
We are derailed.
Sometimes these interruptions stop of from “accomplishing our goals.”
Interruptions seem to be a nuisance to us getting things done especially during this season.
We have so many things to get done.
We have presents to buy, meals to cook, homes to clean, parties to throw, cards to write, and trees to put up.
I know that I get focused some days realizing that I only have so many hours in a day and so much time to get things done.
But just perhaps what this season is about is not getting things done, but it is about the interruption.

Today’s text from Isaiah is really an interruption.
It is out of place with what is happening before.
Some scholars have suggested that the 35th chapter of Isaiah doesn’t belong here.
Because it is surrounded by the prophetic words of what sin brings to bear on our lives destruction, chaos, and death.
But then there is this interruption.
In which the Isaiah speaks of a different day.
He speaks of a day without violence, a day with joy and singing, a day when the eyes of the blind shall be opened.
It seems out of place.
Indeed the good news of God often does.

And that is what we miss without those interruptions in our lives.
We miss a real chance to connect, to speak words of Christmas joy to someone else.
We miss the opportunity to really invest ourselves in the life of someone in need of an interruption.
Because that is the thing about interruptions sometimes we need them badly.
When everything in life is going wrong, when we can’t catch a break, we need an interruption of good news.
When our lives are in ruin then we need an interruption.
We need God to speak good news into our broken lives.
We need to hear about the day when the desert will rejoice and blossom.
Because that is how we feel sometimes.
We feel like everything has dried up and everything is lost.

The shepherds who first heard about Jesus’ birth had their lives interrupted.
They were in the field going about their normal lives.
Think about they were simply doing their jobs.
What they did every night.
I would assume that when they left their houses that morning for work it was simply a day like any day.0
Another day to wake up go to work and tend to the sheep.
Maybe they had things they had to get done.
A list of things the boss wanted them to accomplish before the next day.
You know something like; make sure all the sheep move from this spot to this spot.
Or this sheep is not quite right make sure they get enough sleep.
If you ever had a job you know what I am talking about there is always a list of things that need to get done.
And then well that work is interrupted by this glorious good news of great joy.
And the shepherds do an amazing thing.
They forget about the list of things that have to get done.
They forget about the sheep they are supposed to be watching.
They leave and go and see the baby.
I can’t imagine that their boss was too happy with that decision.
But not only was their lives interrupted, but they wanted and needed it to be interrupted.
And they left Mary and Joseph and then went out and interrupted other lives with this good news.
You know that whole story of Jesus’ birth is filled with dread and gloom up until the shepherds enter the scene.
It is about an empirical power making people take long journeys to be taxed.
It is about a poor family sleeping in a barn because there is no room for them.
And into the middle of all that is this interruption that this birth is more than what it appears.

It is in the interruption time that God comes and offers us good news.
And that is what I am hoping for all of you this season is that your routine, and your lists, and getting things done get interrupted.
We are interrupted with good news of great joy.
What is so amazing about this time of year is how unhappy people are.
Just the other day someone was saying to me how stressed I must be because it is so busy this time of year.
I love this time of year.
I love everything about it.
I love the presents, the parties, the carols, the trees, and the spirit that surrounds us when we gather.
This is supposed to be a joyful time.
It is supposed to lift our spirits.
But the lifting comes not from any of those things.
It is not because of the presents, the tree, the carols, the parties.
Those things are supposed to point us to what brings real joy Jesus Christ.
Our lives are filled with complexity and difficult choices.
But into all of that God has interrupted and brought a word of good news of great joy.
It is not dependent how my life is going right now.
It depends on the one who brings blossoming flowers to grow in the dessert.
It depends on the one who sent the message to shepherds simply doing their job by tending their flock at night.
It depends on the one who comes in a manager as a baby born to peasant parents.
All of those things are interruptions to life as we think we know it.

There are times when I will be in my office working on something and someone will come to see me about something going on in their life.
They will say, “Pastor I hate to interrupt you.”
What I always tell them is that I consider the interruption the most important part of my job.
People who need good news are never an interruption.
They are the work of that we are called to, because it is in the very nature of God to interrupt us.
It was God who interrupted Abraham and called him to a different place.
It was God who interrupted pharaoh’s plans to enslave his people.
It was God who interrupted Israel’s time of political upheaval with the promise of a better day.
And it was God who interrupted the entire world with the birth of our savior Jesus.

I hope for you in this advent time many interruptions.
I hope that you have in those interruptions time to speak good news to people in the dessert.
I hope that God interrupts your life with words of good news of great joy for all people.

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