Jesus is a disruption
From the very beginning of his story, Jesus is a total disruption. Mary and Joseph probably had other plans for their lives. I’m thinking especially of Joseph who “had in mind to divorce Mary quietly” because she was pregnant but then he had a very unsettling dream. The baby was from the Holy Spirit and he should take care of it. What!? Bye-bye, respectable, normal life as a carpenter. Bye-bye, tidy little home in Nazareth. Major disruption! He takes Mary with him to Bethlehem and ends up a refugee in Egypt for a while because he needs to escape from a despotic ruler named Herod.
Life with Jesus is like that for us today too. Thankfully I’m not a refuge (hundreds of thousands are here in the US because they are followers of Jesus though) but other forms of disruption are the norm for me too. Disruption is the norm for anyone who is following Jesus. He will eventually disrupt any of the plans we make without him. This is something we can embrace or run from. We can go with what the Holy Spirit is doing next (that’s one of our proverbs) or we can bend over backwards to keep things the way they are (which is really hard to do!)
Change is a fact of life but it seems like we were wired to resist it. The familiar seems so much safer I guess, probably because it seems controllable (even if it so isn’t). We all want the predictable safety of familiar places, people, and ways of doing things.
Traditions in the Church reflect this almost universal tendency. Someone gets a good idea and then eventually it becomes something we all have to do. Soon enough it’s a chaffing demand from an institutional bureaucracy that is all but impossible not to resent. We need some Jesus disruption, pronto!
Disruption and Safety
At the Democratic National Convention there’s a lot of talk of change, both inside and outside the Wells Fargo Center, but Jesus is leading us to even more radical change than they are talking about. Radical as in deeper down—like at the root (“Radix” is latin for “root”). Jesus’ disruption is about the essence of power and freedom. He’s messing up the very notion of a nation state and our allegiance to it. He’s messing up our belief in the rule of law. He’s asking us for allegiance to him at a deeper, more radical, level of our lives. No political solution can address our greatest need. Jesus disrupts most conversation about solutions no matter where we are coming from on the political spectrum.
So as Christians, we must be good at flexibility even as we are still human and still very much in need of the safety our attempts at control are trying to achieve. Jesus disrupts but also gives us the safety we need. Jesus offers us a more complete safety that is not dependent on our capacity to control our environments—his constant presence with us through his Spirit. To do what the Holy Spirit is calling us to do next we will need to become more and more flexible. In the spirit of that growth, we are trying something new with our Sunday Meetings at our congregation in South Jersey this weekend. We’re having 2 Sunday meetings! One at our regular time and place and one in Gloucester City in the afternoon. We’re calling it Church in the Backyard.