Divine Interruptions

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Introduction:

As we begin this morning – I have a test for you! Don’t worry, it’s not like the ACT or a Biblical Theology test!

We are going to start out with a short video, be asked a question, and then talk about what you see. Let’s watch this video.

Video: Awareness Test Part 1

Compare your answer with your neighbor…How many passes did the team in white make?

Let’s find out the answer along with another question…

Video: Awareness Test Part 2

“It’s easy to miss something you are not looking for”

That’s so true, right?  We get so focused on what is right in front of us, the task at hand, that we miss out on things that are obvious right in front of us.

The economist, Jeremy Rankin says, “we are a nation in love with speed. We eat fast drive fast, we talk fast. We are obsessed with breaking records and shortening time spans. We digest our life, condense our experience, and compress our thoughts. We’re a culture surrounded by memos, and commercials. And while other cultures may believe that pace makes waste, we are convinced that speed reflects alertness, power, and success. Americans are always in a hurry.”

We are so consumed with being in a hurry that the medical community has actually come up with a condition called “Hurry Sickness”. Dr. Meyer Freidman said that Hurry Sickness is a “compelling sense of time urgency.”

So, let’s do a mass confession to see how many of you are affected by this condition. So I want you to raise your hand if you feel that you suffer from Hurry Sickness after I read a list of possible symptoms.

A list by John Ortberg:

  • Do you eat your meals fast?
  • Do you ever feel that there is never enough time in a day?
  • Do you sometimes hurry other people’s speech by saying uh huh or finishing sentences for them?
  • Do you push the elevator button after its already been pushed?
  • Do you feel proud of all the ways you can multitask?
  • How many of you get in the express lane at the grocery store and begin to count the number of items the person has that is in front of you? And then you find yourself getting upset if they have more than the number of items?

They even make an app now to help with hurry sickness.  I think it’s designed for apple but works on android as well.  The app is called “Power Off”

We can be such a hurry-driven people, that it’s all too easy to view anything or anyone that breaks into our agenda as an interruption.

Think about: What are some of the interruptions that occur or have occurred in your life?

Interruptions: being stopped by a cop, bad weather, the internet goes down, death in the family, you forgot something at home and had to turn around and go back, only to learn you missed a bad accident only by a few minutes.

Taking road signs and being interrupted by cops. Being chased by the police helicopter.

Sometimes we are in such a hurry that even God Himself couldn’t interrupt us, let alone those we love or strangers that God places in our path. What we need to realize, though, is that when God begins a work in our lives, it is often disguised as an interruption. If we’re not careful, we’ll be moving so fast and be so focused on the task at hand, that we’ll miss Divine Interruptions.

Movement 1:

Our passage today comes from John 11:1-45 where such an interruption happened to Jesus. We have a few readers today that are going to help us with our story.

John 11:1-45 (NIV)

Reader #1 (Chuck)

Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”

When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

“But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”

Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. 10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”

Reader #2 (Margaret)

11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”

12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.

14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”

16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles[b] from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.

21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

Reader #3 (Phil)

28 After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.

32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied. 35 Jesus wept.

36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

 

Reader #4 (Cheryl)

38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.

“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”

40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”

43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” 45 Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.

In Chapter 1 of “Follow Me to Freedom” by Shane Claiborne, makes an astute observation; It’s about interruptions:

Interruptions are a theme in Scripture. We have a God who is continually interrupting us—interrupting our routines, our patterns of inequity, the status quo…The gospels are stories of interruption after interruption. Jesus was at a wedding in Cana when His mother interrupted Him and said, ‘They have no more wine.’ He had just stepped ashore in a region called Gerasenes when he was interrupted by the cries of a demon-possessed man. He was on His way to visit a sick child when a touch on His sleeve interrupted Him and He felt the power go out from Him. The incredible thing is that Jesus was always available and attentive to the interruptions and surprises, like someone who stops to fix a flat tire for a stranded motorist. Jesus was never so fixed on His vision for the Kingdom that He missed the needs of folks right next to Him. Sometimes Jesus even gets yelled at for stopping to hang out with the kids…

As I read this story, the final and perhaps the most remarkable miracle Jesus performed, one thing stuck out to me. In verse 6 it says, “So when he (Jesus) heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days…”

Jesus had a plan. He was in Perea, about a 2-day trip outside of Bethany when the sisters of Lazarus sent word that he was ill. Jews were attempting to stone him at the end of chapter 10 while in Judea so Christ escaped to Perea.

It was no accident that Christ returned to Perea because it was the place where He began his public ministry. He went there to find rest and revisit the memory of His great encounter with God as He faced this crisis.

As Jesus is in Perea, he decided to stay 2 more days. Jesus’ plans were interrupted.

We like predictability and routine. We appreciate knowing what we are going to do from day to day. Interruptions grab our attention.

For Jesus, this particular interruption involved returning to Judea where he had just faced intense hostility. In fact, the disciples reminded him of this threat in verse 7. “…then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.” “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”

Jesus knew what was to come and to return to Judea was a significant risk. He also knew that the miracle He was to perform would be the last and the final movement that would seal his fate with the Jewish leaders.

Movement 2:

Jesus saw beyond the immediate and looked beyond to the final result. The end of this would be glory, and that’s what Jesus kept in view.

We need to be reminded to keep the “long view of life and ministry. We live in an immediate society and we expect immediate results. This is true in our personal lives as well as in the church. What if in the short term there is death? The death of an idea, death of something you love or are passionate about, the death of a routine or habit. What if there is the resulting grief, suffering, and hurt? Does that mean that it is outside of the will of God?

Hurry hates interruptions. The more we’re in a hurry, the more we resist interruptions.

It’s easy to miss something we’re not looking for.

When God begins a work in our lives it often is disguised as an interruption.

It seems that these are the very things so many of us try to squeeze out of our lives. We don’t want anything to alter our course, even if we know there is something beautiful on the other end of the interruption.

Story of Maisie Juliana

  • Bre text Angelia at the end of February to see if we were interested
  • To Angelia’s surprise, I answered that I felt we should be open to it but we didn’t give an answer right away
  • There is a history of adoption in Angelia’s family but not in mine.
  • We took a little time and said we were open but then the birth mom seemed to get cold feet. We didn’t hear anything for a few weeks and the due date was May 25.
  • We made a picture/story book and mailed it to the birth mom’s sister to help the birth mom get to know us
  • She received it on Sunday night, Angelia met her on March 27 and told Angelia that she wanted us to adopt her little girl. We thought it was just an initial meet and greet.
  • Angelia stopped at Target on the way home and bought a baby girl dress to tell me.
  • We only had 7 weeks to get ready
  • Angelia had just finished fertility treatments with one doctor and we had started with a new doctor and course of treatment to try and get pregnant.
  • Maisie and the idea of adoption was an interruption to the plans that we had.

What I have learned are that…

  1. “Divine interruptions are biblical.”
  2. “Divine interruptions are always invitations.”
  3. “Divine interruptions find you, you don’t find them.”
  4. “A divine interruption may be inconvenient for you, but it is going to be beneficial for others.”
  5. “A divine interruption is more fun walked out in community.”
  6. To whom much is given, much is required. I believe that we as the American church are getting a tap on the shoulder by God.

“Of all the interruptions in your life, is it possible God is tapping you on the shoulder?”

Conclusion:

The sickness of Lazarus refers to the condition of every person apart from God, the affliction of sin and it always ends in death.

“The love of Jesus does not separate us from the common necessities and infirmities of human life. People of God are still people.” (Spurgeon)

Martha suggested to Jesus that Lazarus would rise again in the resurrection at the last day but she didn’t realize that in the presence of Jesus, resurrection is a present immanent reality. We can be free, we can overcome the grips of death and defeat by the power of Christ in us.

And it is not something that Christ gives us – it is Christ Himself that we need.

Christ never brings us into any danger but he goes with us in it. (Matthew Henry Commentary)

To live into the interruptions of our lives it takes:

  1. Bold faith
  2. Patience
  3. Courage
  4. Ultimate Trust

Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus so why didn’t he go immediately to the house? He went when his visit would be the most fruitful after Lazarus died. It is a greater testimony for Jesus as the Christ to raise him from the dead rather than heal him of his affliction.

In this miracle, Christ demonstrates for us his power to raise the “dry bones”. For we are the “dry bones”. We are a lost and sick people in need of Christ’s resurrecting power in our lives to give us freedom from our illness.

If we will just slow down, watch, wait, and live into what we may see as interruptions, God will create the space in our lives to do the work He wants to do – even if that’s a moon walking bear.

Prayer/Reflection

Response:

As we respond to the Word this morning, I would like to ask those who are going to help us as we receive communion to come forward.

Communion:

The Lord’s Supper reminds us that suffering and death are involved in our redemption and in the redemption of the world. This remembrance meal focuses our attention on the amazing love of God to pay such a price for our lives and reminds us of the freedom that we can have in Christ.

As the elements are distributed and hold them, listen and reflect on the words of this song.

Song: Remembrance (Communion Song)

Words of Institution:

We are reminded that in the night that our Lord gave himself up for us, He took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and gave it to His disciples, saying, “Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” When the supper was over he took the cup, gave thanks, gave it to His disciples, and said, “Drink from this, all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this as often as you drink it in remembrance of me.”

And so, in remembrance of these mighty acts in Jesus Christ, we offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving as a holy and living sacrifice in union with Christ’s offering for us.

Let’s pray together.

 

Prayer of Consecration (Epiclesis):

Pour out your Holy Spirit on us gathering here, and on these gifts of the bread and cup. Make them be for us the body and blood of Christ that we may be for the world the body of Christ redeemed by the blood.

By your Spirit make us one with Christ, one with each other and one in ministry to all the world. All honor and glory are yours, Almighty God, now and forever. In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen.

 

Body of Christ

The body of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was broken for you, preserve you blameless, unto ever- lasting life. Take and eat this, in remembrance that Christ died for you.

Blood of Christ

The blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was shed for you, preserve you blameless unto ever- lasting life. Drink this, in remembrance that Christ’s blood was shed for you, and be thankful.

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Benediction:

Ezekiel 37

‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. So as you go I declare…Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into us that we may live.’”

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