As I wrote this Sunday’s sermon, I settled into my comfortable recliner, where all of my best praying and thinking and writing happens, if I’m not at Starbucks or some other coffee shop.
I prayed for awhile, okay, a SHORT while, but I had some ideas and was eager to get to my sermon. But first I needed some mood music, some Transiberian Orchestra, so I decided to pair my iPhone with my new wireless speaker that I got on ebay. Once those sweet sounds were pouring out, I got out my iPad to read my favorite commentary on the readings that I get through my email. I got a little distracted by a Levi’s email that offered 20 percent off, and remembered that my order for the jeans I got my sister for Christmas had been cancelled, so I better re-order them while I was thinking about it, so that they would be here by Christmas.
I finally read the commentary, and the ideas I had been having for my sermon took a new tack. “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans,” came to my mind. Who said that? I Googled the quote, and found a website called the Quote Investigator, which went into great detail about the many people this quote had been attributed to, including John Lennon, who sang it to his son Sean in 1980.
While I was researching this quote, I realized that my iPhone battery was
going to run down if I played my music from it, and since I was going to type my sermon on my laptop, I decided to play the music from my laptop, which was plugged in.
The problem, I quickly discovered was that I did not have a Pandora app on my Macbook, and there wasn’t one listed in the App Store either. I could have used Spotify, an app I DO have, but I haven’t liked their mix of songs on theTransiberian Orchestra station as much as Pandora’s.
I opened the Chrome browser and searched for Pandora app for Mac, and found a website I had never heard of that promised me an app, but the app wouldn’t install because I didn’t have the right program on my Mac. I finally decided to just play from the browser, since several minutes had gone by, and I needed to get to my sermon.
I fiddled around for 10 more minutes and found the Bluetooth connection so I could pair my Mac with my speakers, marveling at modern technology, and how miraculously it could make life so easy.
Just as I had typed in the words Advent IV Sermon, the music stopped. I no longer had a Bluetooth connection, for some reason, and a dialogue box told me I was no longer on wifi, either. I clicked on my wifi, and it fired back up, and then looked at the Bluetooth connection, which said it was connected to my speakers, but the music was coming out of my laptop, and not the speakers.
Okay, I thought, I’ll play the music from my iPad, which I can charge tonight, and proceeded to pair it, and get the app running, and music playing again.
Finally, I sat back into my recliner, and my laptop was now saying that I must install an update of Microsoft Word before it could go any further. This process took another 10 minutes, including having to close out everything that I had open on my laptop such as the previous draft of my sermon. Well, the title, anyway.
By this time, an hour had gone by since I had started, and as I began writing again, I reflected back on the quote from John Lennon (and the 6 other people who have been credited with saying that “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.”)
What had made me think of that? Oh, yeah, there was something on the commentary I had read. I pulled my iPadover to read the poem by W.H. Auden that had made me totally switch my sermon idea earlier.
Before I could read the poem, I was distracted by having to “Like” the music that was playing, which meant clicking on the Pandora app, and clicking on the thumbs up icon on the artist’s page. That only took a couple of minutes, but I was now nine minutes past the hour LATER that I had intended to start writing this sermon.
Ironic, I thought, that this sermon somehow managed to stay intact, as I was distracted by so many other things. It is as it was those 2,000 plus years ago for Mary and Joseph as well. While they were busy traveling to Bethlehem, so Joseph could register in his native land, a baby happened to be born.
God happened while Mary and Joseph were busy making other plans.
God entered this world as almost an afterthought, so that ordinary people like you and me might understand that life happens EVEN when we are busy and distracted and getting the To Do list completed, having forgotten to add“Talk to God” to the list.
What WH Auden said was this to Mary and Joseph: “Blessed Woman, Excellent Man, Redeem for the dull the Average Way, That common, ungifted Natures may Believe that their normal vision can Walk to perfection.”
There is hope for you and me. God keeps manifestinghimself to us, despite our other plans, our busy schedules, the frenzied modern lives made more complicated by technology and modern conveniences. Rather than allow it to interfere, God slips into our consciousness even as we are multitasking, even as we are making way for something else.
I have come to trust that the One who came down from his throne in heaven to live an ordinary life knows what it’s like. And though he may not have lived a life of apps and devices and Bluetooth and wifi, he must have faced other aspects of a human life like diaper rash, and stomach aches and sore throats and puberty, and confusing messages about who he was, and having to decide over his parents’ plans for his career to live the life of an itinerant preacher. Not exactly a safe, secure career to put his parents’ mind at ease.
And there’s that crucifixion and Resurrection business, which, more than anything, defined his whole life. If it hadn’t been for that, he might have lived in obscurity, and been a blip of God on a world’s very busy radar screen.
How many other times had God, DOES God appear to us and we don’t recognize the face of God?
This Advent, while you’re checking off your To Do List, while you’re wondering what all this extraneous activity REALLY has to with God’s Incarnation, remind yourself gently that it is life. And life is what God came to redeem.