embrace the crazy

god be with you

So last week,
if you were here,
we didnt really make it to this part of the service.

We were having such a good time hearing stories of people who were stepping further out in faith that we just ran out of time,
and really,
that’s the way it should have been right? 

Cause it wasn’t just an honour to hear those stories,
but the whole thing was a great reminder about what we’re all about. 

Baked into what this whole church thing is about is helping people experience that Something Bigger than Themselves,
to help them name it as Creator, Spirit, or Christ, or whatever word you want to use, 
to help them connect with and enter into it, 
and find there a life full of identity, purpose, meaning, and joy,
a life, as we’d say, caught up in what God is doing in this world.

I mean, that’s why Im here,
and I know thats why you’re here. 

And because it was such a good day, 
and because it is what we’re about, 
I wanted to let us marinade it in some more,
and try to offer us a way to hold it that’s less
‘awwww’
and more
‘ahhhhh.’

And so to do that,
we’ll enter into that ancient story we just heard because I think there’s something in there that can help us hold what we experienced last week, and let it really bring out who we are and what we’re about, 
not just as the church,
but also as individuals looking to connect with the Divine and let that shape who we are. 

Are ya with me?

So today … 

we’ll start off with the story this story made me think of
whats wrong with jesus
the importance of shifting
the other thing, 
and we'll finish off with that thing Steve said 

but first … lets settle in and say a prayer.

//

Dick Rowe was a music exec at a placed called Decca Records.
His job wasn’t just to sign new bands,
but to predict trends in music and get there before anyone else did. 
And so while Dick did do that and did sign some really great bands, that’s actually not what he’s famous for. 

He’s famous for a memo he wrote his boss. 

One day in 1962 his boss told him to listen to a tape of this new band he had heard of.
So Rowe took a listen and then wrote his boss a memo saying that signing them would be ridiculous. It'd be crazy. 

"Guitar bands,” he wrote, "are on their way out.” 

That band, of course, was … The Beatles … a guitar band that ended up being one of the, if not the most, influential bands of all time, inspiring guitar bands to exist to this day. 

And Dick Rowe, 
despite later signing some other amazing musicians like Van Morrison and the Stones, 
would go down in history as the guy who said ‘no' to the crazy idea of signing a guitar band. 

//

I thought of Dick’s story because I think that it and the story we heard earlier have a lot in common because they are both stories of people being confronted with crazy. 

The story we heard can be found in Mark’s Gospel,
thats one of those accounts we have telling us about who Jesus is and what he’s all about, 
and the story takes us right back to the very beginning of Jesus doing his thing.

He’s been at it for just a hot second and already he’s gaining quite the buzz;
its all people can talk about, 
and he’s gotten so big in fact that one day we’re told not only did the ruling elite and powerful come to see him, 
but who else came to see him?

Yah, his family came too. 

And why? Why did they all come to see Jesus? 

Well they didnt come with the same agenda as the huge crowds of people following him around, 
while they all came because they all thought that Jesus was humming with reverence,
what did the elite and his family think?

Well, they thought something was wrong with Jesus, didn’t they? 

They all thought he was a bit … crazy.

I mean it’s not hard to blame them, really.

There’s Jesus hanging out with John the Baptist, a known political radical and revolutionary. 
There's Jesus talking about how one day a heavenly voice declared that he’s God’s son. 
There’s Jesus sharing about how he faced off against the Devil and get this, he won. 
There’s Jesus thinking he’s magic by healing people. 
There’s Jesus telling people how we got it all upside down and that there's this new wisdom to live by. 
Theres Jesus gathering a team of blue collar men and women, as if they could amount to something.  

I mean if it looks a duck and sounds like a duck …   

So the elite came to see him and did one of two things we tend to do with the “crazy" people and things we encounter:

they condemned it, 
they called it evil - proclaimed that he was in cahoots with the Devil, 
and they warned everyone to stay away from him. 

And his family did the other thing we do with crazy: 

they staged an intervention. 
They tried to save him saying “youre beside yourself! This isn’t you!” 
They tried to bring him back to his senses, 
back into what was appropriate, 
back into something less embarrassing, 
something less controversial. 

Cause that is what we do with crazy, isn’t it? 

When something, someone, or some idea is just too different, 
too far out there, 
too beyond our experience and understanding, 
and, 
if we’re being honest, 
just too scary and threatening, 

we do the things we saw in this story:

We either gaslight it … we call it crazy or whatever name we can think of, cutting off its voice, marginalizing it into the corners.

or 

We try to save it … out of love, shame or whatever, we tame it, muzzle it, drawing it back into the realm of whats acceptable, safe, and comfortable.

We do that with crazy, don’t we? 

Its certainly what we’ve done for years around sexual assault … she’s crazy! don’t listen to her!
Its certainly what we’ve done in politics … go green?! only some lives matter?! thats nuts. dont listen to them. 
Its certainly what happens around the dinner table … sssh. can you just be normal? this is family time. 
Its certainly what we do with certain life decisions … you’re not getting married? you’re going to work and raise kids?! crazy!
And its certainly what we do when being offered grace and gratitude … oh, I dont deserve that. Sssh. No. Not me! Thats crazy talk.

Anyone know what we’re talking about? 

Yah.
I think we all do. 
When it comes to the crazy, 
when it comes to the things that dont fit in our boxes,
we’ve been taught somethings wrong with them and that we need to respond in one of two ways. 

But here’s the thing:

The wisdom of our tradition would say there’s actually another way to deal with the crazy,
there’s actually third option we need to consider. 

//

A friend of mine once told me an old Buddhist parable about how there was once a crazy monk who'd hold up a stick in his hand and ask: “what have I got in my hand?” 
A seeker after truth, but only a very particular kind of truth, says: “It’s a stick.”
Then the monk hit the man over the head with it and says “No, thats what it is.” 

The third option when it comes to the crazy is the wisdom that crazy isn’t always something to reject, it can be something to be embraced. 

Its something to embrace because sometimes, from the right angle, crazy is exactly what we need. 

The problem with how we generally deal with crazy is that we only see one side of it,
one dimension of it,
the side that jars us and confuses us,
the side we just can’t comprehend
the side that simply makes no sense, 
but when we shift perspective,
when we shift to see it from a different angle, 
we can begin to see the crazy in a new way,
a way that opens up a whole new world and a whole new kind of truth.

//

I mean, 
take a look for yourself … 

images.jpeg

 

Its a duck! 

Youre crazy if you think otherwise. Its obviously a duck. 

But shift the angle a bit ….

images.jpeg

 

“Oh. That looks like a rabbit. Maybe it’s not a duck after all."

//

I mean try the same thing with Jesus … 

Why were people calling him crazy?

They heard him calling himself the Son of God.
They saw him healing people.
They heard him talking about fighting evil spirits.
They heard him giving this new wisdom on God and what it meant to be human.

Sure, it sounds a bit crazy. 

But take a step to the right and left and what do you see? 

We don’t just see him calling himself God’s Son, 
but we see God amongst us, we see a God who knows what its like to be human.

We dont just see him healing people, 
we see him taking these people who were written off as worthless and broken and restoring them back into dignity, back into wholeness and back into community. 

We dont just see him talking about fighting the devil, 
we see him talking about his interiors, giving us all permission to talk about the hells we endure and all the anxieties and stresses that come with being human and alive in this world. 

We dont just see him deconstructing what we know and love, 
we see him expanding our our consciousness about the Divine
and showing us a deeper and more ancient wisdom about how to live in connection with God, each other, creation, and ourselves.

Crazy? 

Sure, but isn’t that the kind of crazy we need these days? 
Do we really want to say ‘no’ to that kind of crazy?!

In our lives and world of racism, discrimination, violence, division, anxiety, and scarcity, 
in a world where making money means more than caring for this planet we call home,
in a world where we tolerate children being detained,
in a world where schools ignore the needs of children, 
in a world where more people believe they're more ugly and damaged than beautiful and worthy,
maybe this is the kind of crazy we need,
maybe this is exactly the kind of perspective we need to have to find that life and world we long for. 

Maybe the trick to finding that life and world is learning to shift and see the thing behind the thing and learn the wisdom that crazy isn’t something to reject, but something to embrace. 

//

And maybe for us,
as we continue to think about what church is and what it is we’re doing here,
and what this life we’re longing for requires of us, 
maybe this is something we really need to sit with and try on. 

Cause in this story, who does Jesus say are his mother, his brother, and his sisters?
Who does he say are his family, his tribe, his community? 

The disciples, the people gathered in that room with him.

And who are the disciples? 

They are the ones who believe there’s something bigger than themselves at work in this world, 
the ones who believe they can walk on water,
the ones who believe everyone and everything belongs, 
the ones who have chosen to trust and believe in things like resurrection and liberation, 
they are the ones who chose to leave everything behind to pursue a life and world of love. 

They the ones who’ve chosen to embrace the crazy,

Or to put it the way Jesus does:

They’ve chosen to do God’s will,
they’ve chosen to participate with what God is doing in the world.

What kind of people is Jesus saying are his kind of people?

The crazy people! 

Those who,
when crazy appears,
dont shut it down or tame it, 
but who step to the side, see the God behind it all, and embrace it.

//

To be the church,
to do what we do,
to be what we’re all about,
is to be people who dare to believe crazy and ridiculous things:

things like that diversity is more beautiful than uniformity, 
or that this world is big enough for everyone, 
of that we should all care, 
or that we can always grow and make a difference no matter how young or old we are, 
or that grace and peace is the way of the universe, 
and that God is still at work in the world.

Are you with me? 

Good.
I hope so.
Cause here’s the other thing,
here’s the catch and the rub: 

This is way more than a cute way to talk about spirituality and the church. 

There’s actually a really important point baked into this story that we need to hear and be challenged with.

Right after saying who he counts as his family,
as the tribe and group he identifies with,
what does Jesus say? 

He says something pretty scary doesn’t he? 

He talks about the "unforgivable sin" of "blaspheming the holy spirit." 

I know right?
“Unforgivable sin”?!
That doesnt sound very Jesusy.
If God’s a God of love, how can She not forgive?! 

Now I dont think Jesus is being literal here. 
Of course God is all forgiving, all loving, and all gracious
thats the craziest idea of them all.
Jesus is just using some hyperbole to get our attention about something super super important.

What Jesus is saying,
is that the only way to the life and world we long for,
the only way to a world of justice and peace,
the only way to lives that are full, deep, and meaningful,
the only way to the kind of life and world God wants us to have, 
is by getting caught up in that Spirt we call Holy, 
by that generative and creative divine energy that animates us and moves closer to wholeness. 

To say no to the crazy,
to shut it down by gaslighting it and trying to tame it,
well, Jesus is saying, 
thats to get in the way of God and if there’s one thing we should never ever do, 
if there’s one thing that’ll just stop us from doing any of that, 
it's get in the way of God. 

As the great prophet James of Hendrix put it, “craziness is the only way to heaven.”

//

So if we’re here celebrating church this morning,
if we’re here to be a part of what God is doing, 
if we’re here to get caught up in that Spirit, 
lets hear this invitation and let’s heed that warning:

May we choose to embrace the crazy,
and may we let that craziness shape and guide everything we do,
knowing and trusting,
the kinds of lives and world God wants us to have,
needs and takes a little bit of crazy. 

//

So we end with this,
a blessing of sorts from a guy named Steve who chose to pursue a crazy idea he had over 14 years go:

that one day we could all have these little tiny computers in our pockets that could basically do anything we want.  

So to you,
the church, 
to all of us,
the new, the old, and the curious, 
here’s to you:

Here’s to the crazy ones. 
The misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes, the ones who see things differently. 
They’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. 
Because they change things — they push the human race forward. 
And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. 
Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

may we go and change the world. 

Amen.