10/13/19 The Homewrecker
Luke 5:17-26 1st UCC- Carlisle
Does anyone know of any person who has been a homewrecker? Has anyone here ever been a homewrecker? This word may have different connotations for people. As I use this word this morning I am not using the definition that speaks of someone ruining relationships. Instead I am talking literally about homewrecker. Has anyone ever taken a tool to their house and dramatically changed it? Before everyone responds with an absolute no on the home wrecking action, allow to ask people another question. Has anyone ever done a remodeling project? Re-modelling can be done by the owner, or someone can be hired to complete the work. But I would like us to consider the possibility that whenever a significant project is undertaken for a house, there is the possibility of destruction and carnage to occur. Certain remodeling projects can involve stress and frustration, tears and anguish. While they may not lead to permanent damage, at least temporarily the remodeling or home project can lead to a wrecked home, either in a physical sense or a figurative sense.
Depending on the size of the project, a family’s schedule can be thrown out of order. How many people have gone through construction, reconstruction, or remodeling within their current house, or a home that they lived? Can I see a show of hands. Now, how many that went through some sort of modifications of the house found that there was literally bedlam involved in this house project. How many people found that their daily routine was offset significantly while the project was going on? See I think this is common, that the notion of home wrecking can be experienced by a number of us.
I think it is fair to say that we have gone through several remodeling projects during our marriage. I want to talk about one that happened early in our marriage. There were actually two that occurred while we were in the house in Northeast Wisconsin. The first one involved a front porch, and the second involved a bathroom. Both of these events brought some level of chaos into our lives. There was a physical disruption in the house, changes in the daily routine, as well as some emotional distress. Now, before I go much further I must confess something. I am not skilled with remodeling or construction, I think my entire biological family does not have the proper genetic code and so I don’t think any of the Schwab’s in my family are properly equipped for such endeavors. And so the tendency for me is to turn to the professionals who know how to do this sort of work.
This second renovation of the house happened about four years into living in Wisconsin. We had come to the conclusion that the master bathroom had to be re done. Sink and toilet and vanity were all to be replaced. And the bath tub was going to be redone. I thought it would make the most sense to do this project while Rachel was out of town. She had a trip planned for a Christian Educators conference which would take her out of town. I figured it made sense to have the project completed while she was on this trip. So while we would not have use of the master bath, we still had a half bathroom which I could use and the entire project would be completed by the time Rachel had returned from this 7 day trip. At least that was the plan. I learned a couple of things. Renovations and remodeling often (if not always) take longer than what builders say.
Second of all, it can be challenging when the person doing the construction work wants to stop every time he sees the house owner and wants to have an in-depth conversation on what is going on in the world, what is happening in their own lives, and occasionally wants to find out the owners opinion on all of the sports team. So this project took much longer than I expected. And this meant that when Rachel returned the following week, the there was no master bathroom ready, nor was there any shower in the house. Rachel was agreeable with this for the first few days, but then her patience got shorter and shorter. We finally explained the need for the project to be finished up. I believe the project took a little over two weeks.
Yes, having a master bathroom and shower is a very nice thing to possess. And yes I hear about the length of this extended home project for some weeks afterward. We did get this remodel completed, even though it did bring about disarray and chaos to our house for more than a couple of days.
But I would like us to consider this. This bathroom remodel was significant and impacted our lives. But in essence life continued on. Now, imagine for a moment if someone had a house where the roof was opened up. Can you imagine the disruption to the house where this might occur. Now as I have been looking at this passage this week, it is hard to conceive of a roof where it is easily removed. The basic function of a roof is to keep people safe and dry. So it is likely that the roof was a solid construction, and not made of various removable pieces. There may be a translation issue too with some readings of this scripture using the word tiles to describe the roofing. Scholars speak about how tiles in a roof may have been in existence in this approximate this timeframe, but it was not common place for this to be found in the community of Galilee.
More likely the foundation of the roof would have been made of made from beams and branches of trees covered with a mixture of earth and straw” (J. F. Strange and H. Shanks If this was what roof was made of, a hole could have been made relatively easily through the roof.
But this was more than just an average hole. The man that was lowered into the house was on a stretcher. So we can probably figure that the hole would have had to been at least two feet wide by six feet long. Probably the hole would have to be larger in order to safely and securely lower this man down to be placed in front of Jesus. 3 feet by 6 feet. (use a door as a comparison) That is a big hole. Now rain would have an easy time getting into that house. Not too mention all of the animals and critters that had a personal interest in getting into some sheltered area.
Perhaps I am looking at this passage from a narrow perspective, but I am not sure how I would feel if someone made a hole in my roof the size of a door. Talk about the potential for home wrecking. It is almost surprising that the Pharisees and scribes do not say anything here. Jesus certainly does. But his words are not focused on the reckless behavior of the friends of the paralyzed friend. He does not reflect on the chaotic nature that this house is sure to be in, now that the structure is not secure. We can check with others who are currently practicing engineering, but I am quite sure that such a hole will not add to the strength and safety of the building. Jesus is not even bothered by the presence of the Pharisees and others who are watching him, not to be in a supportive role, but most likely to try and find a way to discredit him and destroy his reputation.
Jesus instead focuses on the faith of the man and the courage of his friends and speaks about how their faith has given the paralyzed man the freedom from his sins. The Pharisees are outraged by this, and begin to talk of dissent and the words that Jesus speaks. But Jesus is not concerned by their challenges and opposition. Instead Jesus points out the power of god and what can happen with God’s love. Not only does this paralyzed man be offered forgiveness of his sins, but also forgiveness from his condition. Jesus tells him to get up and take his mat and to go. The man before him becomes able bodied again and can do just that.
Jesus brings about change for the formerly paralyzed man, his friends and all who witness this event. Jesus is a change agent, he brings about healing and wholeness and a completely new perspective for people with faith.
Life can be chaotic, whether a person is remodeling or not. Change agents can be introduced to a person’s life. I do not wish to presume it is easy to ride out the turbulent days, or the tremendous change in schedule and routine. It would be prudent for us to take stock in those situations and see what is truly important, and what we need to focus on. Life does not remain the same. The one constant is change, and sometimes change is swift and overwhelming. Sometimes it can feel as though we are in the midst of a strong, and being beset by a homewrecking, (person, situation, or circumstance
Thanks be to God and may the people of god say together. Amen