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Blessings can be found in interruptions

How well do you deal with interruptions?

You’re engaged in a task at work, maybe you’re up against a deadline, and things are just starting to come together when your cell phone rings. Your child is running a fever, and the school needs you to come and pick him up right away.

Susie Thomas

Or maybe you’re engaged in a conversation with someone you haven’t seen for a while, (a likely scenario, these days) and you’re really enjoying catching up when someone else sidles up, and interrupts your fellowship with questions that don’t need to be asked right then. And then they won’t go away.

Interruptions are a part of life, and it seems to me that the busier we find ourselves, the more interruptions we face each day. It’s a wonder any of us get anything done at work, in fact, what with all of these 21st century distractions: emails pinging as they land in our in-box, phones buzzing, those annoying robocalls and pop-up ads obscuring an article on our computer screens.

The advice about dealing with interruptions in our work lives often has to do with how to recover from the interruption and regain our focus, so that our “productivity” can be restored. But have you ever considered that some unplanned, unexpected and unsought intrusions might be holy moments, sent to you by God?

During Holy Week when Jesus’ last moments on earth are re-told with great solemnity, every word Jesus says over those last days, every action that he took, holds special significance for believers — especially the description of Jesus’ journey to the place of his crucifixion. The Roman soldiers had laid the heavy horizontal beam of the cross on Jesus’ shoulders, but — weakened by the torture he’d already undergone — Jesus falls under the weight of the beam and can go no further.

That’s when this happened. “They compelled a passer-by who was coming in from the country to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, father of Rufus and Alexander.” (Mark 15:21) A random man named Simon found his journey from the countryside into Jerusalem interrupted by the soldiers’ demand. Simon didn’t come to Jerusalem to carry Jesus’ cross — in fact, he may not even have known who this bloody, suffering man was.

But Simon of Cyrene did carry the crossbeam for Jesus, and this forced interruption in his busy day changed Simon’s life forever. We know this because the names of his sons — Rufus and Alexander — are mentioned as though the first readers of the gospel would have known who they were. It’s likely that they, along with Simon himself, became leaders in the early Christian church.

We all know the damage that interruptions can do. The pandemic has disturbed countless lives in profound ways. But perhaps there are blessings to be found in being interrupted.

Simon of Cyreme carried the cross for the King of Glory, the Prince of Peace, the Son of God. If we pay attention to an unexpected intrusion, it just may change our lives.

REV. SUSIE THOMAS is lead pastor of Farmville United Methodist Church. Her email address is sthomas@farmvilleumc.org.