I got interrupted today.
I meant to spend some time reading today, especially early in the day when it was so gloomy, dark and I had a serious case of the Blechs. But then I got interrupted. First it was Pastor Ron asking me about closing the windows in the sanctuary, which I hadn't figured out how to do just yet. Then it was my wife calling me to see if I could figure out what that smell was in the wall of our guest bedroom. Finally it was one of my students needing an interview for an English class.
All these interruptions - they kept me from the fun part of ministry, which is my reading and my study and my theological work. Darnit!
Except that today, the interruptions were the ministry. Without Ron's interruption, we'd have wasted money heating a room that was open to the cold outside air. I went home to discover that three mice had died in the drywall of our guest bedroom, but now we've got a chance to clean and air out the room before my brother and his friends arrive for the game this weekend. And spending the time in the interview gave me a chance to think over some of the particulars of our work at the Lutheran Center that I hadn't considered just yet.
Today's interruptions were common, ordinary interruptions, but they could have been much, much different. It could have been a call from a parent for me to be with a student after receiving news of a loved one's death. It could have been one of my students asking for help dealing with a break-up or a serious mistake or sin they needed to confess. It could have been someone calling to ask for my help with a ministry opportunity too important and good to pass up.
In the Bible, most of the people called to serve God are interrupted in some way or another. Abram and Sarai were the Ancient Near Eastern version of a farming family when God sent them 400 miles west to the land of Canaan. Moses was a shepherd when God called him back to Egypt to free the people of Israel. Peter, James and John were fishermen when Jesus called them to be his disciples. And once the call to that ministry came, the interruptions didn't stop: in fact, they became more frequent. Jesus was constantly being interrupted by the needs of the people around him. Jesus usually ignored or rebuked the disciples' complaints about interruptions; I think he knew all along that interruptions are where real, transforming ministry takes place.
We make time for things in our faith communities, not so we can get closer to God, but so that we can see how close God is to us already. We take time in worship to open our eyes so that, in the midst of crisis and confusion, when the interruption is serious and threatening, we have the faith and courage to believe that God is here among us, that Jesus has not left us alone, that the Holy Spirit empowers and sustains us through all of life's interruptions. We are learning, right here and now, to see that God is concerned with the very common, planned-out, everyday matters of life, and if this is so, then God is also deeply concerned with those interruptions that take our breath away, that leave us weeping for joy, or for sorrow. As you plan this week, as you work, as you are interrupted, know that God is with you in your work, your studies, your play, and those unforeseen things which interrupt your life - and all of them matter, deeply, to the Creator who loves you, the Son who saves you, the Spirit who sustains you. Amen.