Date: March 29, 2015
Title: “For God’s Sake, Get On With It!”
Preaching: The Rev. Donna M.L. Pritchard
Scripture: Mark 14:1-11
One year, for Holy Week, an entire town gets into the act, putting on their very own passion play. They assign various parts to different people in the community, and they practice night and day for weeks, rehearsing their lines and memorizing the drama. Now, the fellow chosen to play Jesus is a most unlikely person. He is a big, burly oilfield worker, who had been known to get into a barroom brawl from time to time. He seems the most surprising character to play our loving Lord.
Finally, the big day arrives, and the play is unfolding according to plan. Jesus is being led away to be crucified when one little man, cast as part of the crowd, gets caught up in the drama. Shouting “Crucify him! Crucify him!”, this man insults Jesus and accidentally sprays some spit in Jesus’ face as he walks by with the cross on his back.
Well, the oilfield worker stops, reaches up and wipes the spit from his face, and then looks at the little man – his neighbor – and says “I’ll be back to take care of you after the Resurrection!”
Apparently, he didn’t get it. Apparently, this man was clueless – as clueless as the chief priests, plotting to kill Jesus because he threatened their positions of power. This man was as clueless as the crowds following Jesus into Jerusalem, expecting him to violently overthrow the Roman occupation. This man was as clueless as the first disciples, angrily criticizing the woman with the alabaster jar as she pours out an extravagant love for Jesus. This man was as clueless as you and me when we are caught in the grip of our own impatience and can only think to shout “For God’s sake… get on with it!”
While we might think we are justifiably angry, that some thing or somebody has offended us, injured us, or hurts us in some way, the truth is our impatience says a whole lot more about us than it does about anything or anyone else. More often than not, we have manufactured our impatience all on our own. And we nurture it, we pet it and praise it, mold it and make it into something that could take on a life of its own.
Just this week I had to go into the Apple Store for a little help from the “genius bar”. Now you would think that getting help from someone called a “genius” would be an easy thing. Not for me. You see for me, there is something about needing technological assistance which always makes me feel stupid. And of course, the more insecure I feel, the less likely I am to understand whatever it is I am trying to learn. And the harder it is to learn, the stupider I feel, and the grumpier I become. So there I was in that Apple Store, nurturing, petting, praising, and molding my own impatience until it was taking on a life of its own.
So imagine my chagrin when the woman helping me noticed my “revdonna” email address and asked, “Oh, where are you a pastor?” Busted. For a moment, I thought about blaming some other church. But then I somewhat sheepishly told her the truth. And she responded by saying, “Oh, the church at the Goose Hollow Max stop? I’ve been meaning to go to that church…” How embarrassing, to be caught in my grumpiness and impatience!
Martin Luther once defined sin as “the heart all curved in on itself.” And Bishop Will Willimon suggests that anger is “the master that keeps us out of the world of others by locking us within ourselves.” No wonder we let impatience take on a life of its own…maybe we are just looking for a little company, locked as we are within ourselves!
To Jesus’ contemporaries, the peace of Rome was more like slavery. And destitute, oppressed people rarely long for a liberator whose campaign is one of suffering. Judas surely was not the only one who was impatient, who wanted Jesus “for God’s sake…to get on with it!” Judas was not the only one who thought that a messiah headed for the cross was like no messiah at all.
And even though we know how the story goes after the parade, beyond the cross and past the grave, we still are impatient. Laura Mendenhall puts it this way:
“I want to tell you the story of the parade because I want you to know of God’s love for you. I want to tell you the story of the parade because I also want to ask Jesus to stop the parade, to turn around and go safely, quietly back to Nazareth, to get out of the middle of the street and quit causing a commotion. I want to protect Jesus from the vulnerable stance of love.”
In our impatience with God and with the world, we too find ourselves wanting, somehow, to protect Jesus from the vulnerability he subjects himself to in the name of love. And yet, as C.S. Lewis reminds us:
“To love is to become vulnerable and to risk suffering. If you want to make sure your heart is not broken, you must give your heart to no one, and to nothing. Then it will not be broken. Indeed, it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, and irredeemable.”
When we choose to follow Jesus, we choose to open ourselves to the vulnerability of love. When we choose to follow Jesus from the parade to the cross and beyond the grave, we stop curving in on ourselves, and we stop locking ourselves away from others. When we choose to take on Jesus we must also choose to give up the impatience we have so carefully constructed all on our own.
And the good news is, Jesus does come back to “deal with us” after the Resurrection. Jesus comes back again and again to deal with us. Jesus comes back to draw us out of ourselves and into the vulnerability of love. Jesus comes back to deal with us – and to deal us in to life in all its abundance and joy. Thanks be to God! Amen.