What Is All That Racket?!
This is a classic dad line. Here we are on Father’s Day and like other holidays, we take time to honor, remember, and give gratitude to someone or something. Father’s day reminds me of family vacations back in the 1990’s. We had a 1985 Plymouth Voyager Minivan… and when they said mini they really meant it. It had 5 seats total, which was perfect because there were 5 of us who needed to fit into the van. So we would throw our luggage and coolers and tents and portable charcoal grills in the back, squeeze into the van and be on our way to some fun summer destination. But , as you might imagine, three children crammed together on the lone back seat on a 5-hour car ride was basically a living nightmare. There would be laughter, pushing, name-calling, car games, singing, whistling, crying… inevitably leaving our father with only one question, “What Is All That Racket?!” usually followed by something like “I will turn this car around” or “No more laughing back there!”
So today I want you to imagine a trip like this… Jesus is driving a minivan, or really a small bus. And crammed into the back of this bus is Saul, which is Paul’s name before he had his conversion experience with Christ. A second passenger is Mary Magdalene, who had 7 demons that needed exorcism. Other passengers are the 12 disciples of Jesus who usually had questions or showed weak faith, Joanna, a follower of Jesus who needed to be cured of her illnesses, and then finally there is the unnamed woman in Luke who was called a sinner who comes upon Jesus at a party… imagine this ride! This sounds like a pretty motley crew making tons of negative noise, you can imagine and almost hear Jesus asking from the front, “What Is All That Racket?!” or, and this is tougher to imagine, but perhaps Jesus is saying from the front, “I will turn this van around.” But, I don’t think it gets to that point….
Let’s go to the scripture. Here Paul is basically saying goodbye to the Cornithians for good, and he wants to leave them with a few important themes, the themes and ideals of Christ Himself. First he says put things in order, which means to mend your ways, have the same mind as Christ, and be restored in that Christ-like love for one another. If we go back to our bus ride, we can see this idea of mending your ways impacting Saul greatly. Saul was persecuting believers, calling for imprisonment and death of believers, and then one day on a road to Damascus he was hit with the light of Christ and heard Christ’s voice. He became a believer. All that negative racket he was causing was transformed into beautiful sounds of grace, love, and communion.
Our second theme is listen to my appeal and agree with one another, live in peace. Which basically means keep listening to Christ, to each other, agree on the basics of faith and life together, live in harmony and encourage one another. If we go back to our bus passengers, we can see this idea of listening and harmony greatly impacting the disciples. They often did not listen very well, especially in the gospel of Mark. They do not understand who Jesus is and what he wants of them and lack faith, they sometimes appear self-obsessed with no signs of improvement. Judas betrays, Peter denies, and the others run. Despite all of that, they came to know Jesus after the resurrection. They listened and encouraged one another. It was them, the disciples who started the difficult work of the early Church. All that negative racket they were causing was transformed into beautiful sounds of grace, love, and communion.
Our third theme is greet one another with a holy kiss. Basically, it means embrace like with the passing of the peace that we do. Know each other as brothers and sisters. The three women on this bus ride understand what knowing Christ is all about. Mary Magdalene is freed of seven demons by Jesus, and then becomes one of his followers. She greets Jesus with a holy kiss when she anoints Jesus’ feet with expensive perfume and dries them with her hair. She is the first to hear of Jesus’ resurrection. Joanna had illnesses that Jesus cured, she was wealthy and had connections so when she became a follower of Jesus, she supported the journey. Lastly, the woman who was called a sinner in Luke came up to Jesus and with her tears, she washed his feet and dried them with her hair, she kissed his feet and put oil on them. In this act her sins which had been many, were forgiven. They all came to know Christ, and embraced him. The racket of Mary’s demons, Joanna’ illnesses, and the woman’s sins, were all transformed into beautiful sounds of grace, love, and communion.
This Sunday is also Trinity Sunday. I spared you a sermon on the doctrine of the Trinity because 1, Tom and I have trinity elements in many of our messages, and 2, it is too complex a doctrine to put into 1 sermon or 2 or 3. Instead, we heard about elements of the Trinity… grace, love, and communion. Grace, the grace of Jesus Christ giving his life. Love, the love of God in creating and sustaining us through Christ. And Communion, the communion of the Holy Spirit of the Lord bringing us together in fellowship. Week after week we come together growing in community. This whole benediction from Paul, and really it’s from Christ, is a plea to be New Creation. All of these people riding in the van with Jesus are becoming new creation. They are restoring and reconciling their lives, changing their negative sounds of racket into beautiful sounds that ring like a heavenly choir. So as we ride down the road in our bus, with Jesus driving, let’s make the sounds of a heavenly chorus; acknowledging God’s commitment to us and our accountability to God to be instruments of grace, love, community, and peace.