The Seventh Sunday after Pentecost
July 19, 2009
Mark 6:30-34, 53-56
St. Francis, Norris
“For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.” Did you hear that when I read it just a minute ago? They had no leisure even to eat. Even to eat. They had no leisure. What’s wrong with these people, anyway? A society that doesn’t even take the time to sit down with their family at mealtime is beyond our imagination isn’t it? Too busy to stop, even for a meal.
At least we have taken care of that problem in our society. No longer do we need to fret over such things. Not since one of God’s greatest creations came into being. The creation of the drive through window. Think about it. We can get our meals, do our banking, pay our utilities, pick up and drop of our prescriptions and a host of other things from the convenience of our automobiles. You can get a car wash without ever getting out of it, at some places. The other day I had to turn in a marriage license and guess what? Drive through convenience, that’s what. You can do all of your county clerk functions at the Anderson County Clerks’ office from behind the steering wheel of your vehicle.
We have really figured out ways to better utilize our time in this culture. And since we have figured out so many ways to better utilize our time, it only stands to reason that we must have more leisure time than ever…right? So, what’s wrong with our plan? Why does it seem that we are busier than ever and have less and less free time instead of more?
I guess one thing we could do to free up a little more time is, we could stop spending so much of our free time with God. Maybe a little less prayer. Maybe we’re spending too much time in church. Maybe the sermons could be shorter. I’ve got it! A drive through window for communion. I wonder how that might work.
We should model our system after the most successful and that would be McDonalds, I assume. So you would first drive in the entrance to the circular drive from the lower parking lot. We could put in a speaker system and you would place your order for Sunday. Then you would move forward to the next window to pay. Oh yes, we need to get the money first. We don’t want any drive offs. Then you could recite the Nicene creed as the sermon downloads on to your ipod or if you are rite one person maybe we could have a cassette pre-made. I know some people don’t know what MP3 is after all. When you make it to the next window you get a communion wafer and a sip or dip of wine. It could be a number one or a number two combo. The speakers would be playing Jim Brent from 8:00A.M. to 10:30A.M at which time we switch to Toni and the choir. Since it could all be pre-recorded there would be no need for the choir to actually be there.
My computer program sorts my sermons by topic so you actually place your order for whatever topic you wished to hear about from the menu at the drive up speaker. Once we get all of the bugs worked out, I figure the entire process would only take five minutes tops, since you are going to listen to the service as you drive down the road on the way to the lake or wherever you have scheduled to be that day. Of course we could probably work out call ahead service to cut down on the five minutes you spend. We’ll put Godly play onto a DVD for the kids at an additional cost. Of course that will come with a free plastic toy made in China.
I could go on and on with this. It would be fun, but when you stop and think, it’s kind of sad isn’t it? We fill our lives with all sorts of activities and fail to schedule quality time with the people we care about the most. We fail to schedule time for God. We spend so much time with soccer, football, baseball, ballet, band, scouts and the gym that we have to go through the drive through in order to get it all done. And when Sunday morning rolls around and the only thing scheduled is church… and only then if you feel like it…sure would be nice to sleep in today.
I have always heard, eighty percent of the work in a parish is done by twenty percent of the people as a rule of thumb. If you think about the point of this statement you come to the realization that it is true. Some people spend a tremendous amount of time doing the work of this parish while others do very little. I do not bring this up to try and shame anyone. What happens is the same thing that happens to those soccer parents that are constantly doing and going. The doing and going becomes tiresome and we start looking for drive through windows.
My favorite part of the service is when everyone comes to the communion rail. It is such a special moment. It is this time that we become one body. Not just with the people here in this church but with a huge multitude that are in other places that day or have even gone on before us. Those whom we love but see no more. Those who we are in communion with in all parts of this country and throughout the world. These are sacred moments and I, for one, treasure them.
There is another communion that takes place on Sundays that I treasure. That is the communion that we have after the service in the parish hall. I love to sit and talk with the eight o’clock crew before they go to their third communion service of the day at Shoney’s or Golden Girls. Then as the ten thirty people arrive there is a communion with one group and then communion after the ten thirty service with even more people. Then on the fifth Sundays when we have the pot luck the communion is even more glorious and with more people.
Communion is much more than the sacred moments we spend at the rail on Sunday. Webster defines communion as: 1: an act or instance of sharing2 : a Christian sacrament in which consecrated bread and wine are consumed as memorials of Christ's death or as symbols for the realization of a spiritual union between Christ and communicant or as the body and blood of Christ b: the act of receiving Communion : the part of a Communion service in which the sacrament is received3: intimate fellowship or rapport : communication4: a body of Christians having a common faith and discipline <the Anglican communion>.
The third definition is the best in my opinion it covers all communions in my mind…intimate fellowship. That intimacy can be with Christ or with the people you care about or even better, both. That intimacy can be with those strangers that share our faith and discipline. Admit it. When you are out of town and see a car with an Episcopal shield sticker, you feel as though you know them because of the disciplines of the church that you share. There is an unspoken spiritual bond between you and this stranger. You have communion with that unknown, unseen person that you know only one thing about. That they are Episcopalian. It makes you happy to see them.
In our gospel we hear of how happy everyone is to see Jesus. Jesus could not escape from the masses of people seeking him out. He wanted his disciples to have some rest but they were unable to get away. Sometimes we find ourselves in the same predicament. We have too much communion of the personal kind. That’s when we find ourselves in the drive through. Scurrying to the next obligation without concern for what we are sacrificing.
I have a book titled something like, “Don’t bother me now Lord, I’m busy praying.” Many of us are in just that situation. I don’t have time for communion. There are too many people I have to see. We miss the point. Communion is joining with other people. Communion is a magical moment where we lay down differences and agree with what is of utmost importance to us.
Jesus never turned the people away. The whole point of the lesson today was that Jesus wanted rest. Not for himself but for his disciples. Rest was not to be found, even in the place that had been deserted. The drive through was open 24-7. It still is but I hope you will take the time to come dine inside from time to time. The communion is more than just the bread and wine. The communion is also the coming together of friends neighbors and even those we don’t care so much for. It is indeed intimate fellowship.