In the gospel appointed for Sunday, Jesus is repeatedly interrupted as he makes his way across Galilee. First, he is interrupted by Jarius, a synagogue leader with a sick daughter. He agrees to follow Jarius but along the way Jesus is interrupted again. A woman suffering from hemorrhages reaches out to touch Jesus. He stops to seek out who touched him, and he takes time to speak with the woman who reached out in faith. With each interruption Jesus is patiently attentive to those around him.
From reading Mark’s story, I get the sense that the disciples weren’t nearly as patient as our Lord. When Jesus stops to ask who touched him, his disciples reply, “You see the crowds pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’” Reading between the lines, I hear the disciples saying, “We don’t have time for this. Let’s keep moving.” In stopping to care for those around him, Jesus redirects his disciples to the essence of his ministry: to bring healing, to resurrect the dead, to proclaim God’s glory and love.
Anyone who has worked on a church staff knows the frustration and the gift of interruption. During staff meetings we learn that someone is in crisis. On our way to coffee hour we hear about an unexpected death. Preparing to begin our Sunday morning class we learn that a member of our community is desperately in need. Each interruption is not a distraction, but an opportunity to refocus, to remember our purpose and mission as the Church.
In this transition season it’s tempting to lose our patience, to want to “get on” with the work ahead. But it’s important for us view this season not as an interruption, but as an interlude, as a between-time that presents us with opportunities to reflect on our deepest values as a community. This season of transition will allow us to discover who we are as St. Peter’s and how we are going to continue to be a beacon of hope in Center City Charlotte in years to come.
The Book of Common Prayer states that the mission of the Church is to “restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.” That is our mission: the work of healing, resurrection, reconciliation, and love.
As we give thanks for the ministry of Father Ollie and take time to say goodbye, we have a chance to see this new season not as a distraction from our mission, but as an opportunity to dig deep and to remember the essence of our ministry as the Body of Christ for the world.
The Reverend Jacob E. Pierce, Associate Rector