“Boom! Mic Drop”

August 28, 2016
Jonathan Rumburg
Luke 13:10-17

Introduction

At the end of a great show, a singer, stand-up comedian, or performer of many kinds, love to celebrate with a distinctive move—they “Boom!  Mic drop.”  It means they have done a fantastic job, set the place on fire, left the audience in stitches.  It means they have “killed-it” Oddly enough, the opposite of “killing-it” is bombing.  If you bomb, no one laughs.  If you bomb, there’s no boom, not mic drop.

Dropping the mic has been around for over 30 years when Eddie Murphy dropped the mic in 1983 at the end of a stand-up special.  Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock then made it a part of their routines.

More recently, Mindy Kaling dropped the mic at a rap battle on The Mindy Project, and Adam Scott did the same at the end of a speech on the wildly popular TV show Parks and Recreation.  When Neil Patrick Harris hosted the Tony Awards, he didn’t just drop the mic—he tossed it.  After singing at the MTV Video Music Awards, Beyoncé did a mic-drop and revealed that she was pregnant.  Even President Obama dropped the mic at his final correspondence dinner.

You drop the mic when you feel you’ve “killed it”—done a fantastic job.  The mic hits the floor and you walk away victorious with the masses on their feet applauding.  And while there are many well-known mic-drops, if you ask me, Jesus was the first to “Boom!  Mic drop.”

Move 1

In today’s gospel reading, Jesus kills it.  He’s teaching in one of the Galilean synagogues on the Sabbath day.  He’s not singing or doing stand-up comedy, but he’s drawing a crowd nonetheless.

Just then, a woman appears— she has a spirit that has crippled her for 18 years, leaving her bent over and unable to stand up straight.  Jesus says to her, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.”  He lays his hands on her, and immediately she stands up straight and begins to praise God.  Jesus is victorious over the crippling spirit, the woman is healed, she responds with praises to God, the crowd goes wild with amazement, Jesus has killed it.  “Boom!  Mic drop.”

But there’s always at least one in the crowd who is never impressed, never satisfied, never pleased with what they saw—somebody que Kanye West.  (If you don’t get that reference consider yourself fortunate.)  Not everyone is impressed with Jesus.

The leader of the synagogue is indignant because why?  Jesus has broken a religious law by healing on the day of rest.  The leader says to the crowd, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the Sabbath day.”  The man criticizes Jesus for performing the work of healing, and scolds the crowd for seeking healings on the Sabbath.  But Jesus, being Jesus, of course has a response to this heckler.  Jesus responds by picking the mic back up and saying, “You hypocrites!  Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water?”  Which is against Talmudic Law in regards to keeping Sabbath.  The people know they break this law.

Jesus then asks, “And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the Sabbath day?”  Again, they know he’s right.  The opponents of Jesus are immediately put to shame, and the entire crowd rejoices at all the wonderful things he is doing—they are on their feet applauding.  In that Galilean synagogue Jesus has nailed it, set the place on fire and achieved a complete victory over his opponents.  “Boom!  Mic drop.”

In this story, Jesus drops the mic when he frees the oppressed and speaks truth to power.  As Christians, we are called to follow Jesus boldly, free the oppressed, and speak truth to power so that we too can drop the mic.

Move 2

First, we are called to liberate oppressed people, as Jesus did when he healed the woman afflicted by a crippling spirit.  Although Luke doesn’t tell us the exact nature of her affliction, the circumstance is the same today as then.  There are many who are afflicted, bent over, unable to stand up.  The unemployed and homeless, substance abusers, teenagers caught up in sex trafficking, children who struggle to be successful at school, aging adults who are left alone.  Not to mention the hate directed toward those of various race, religion, and sexual orientation.  It’s an immense task, which begs us to ask, how—how are we to liberate the oppressed?

*******

          For over 25 years, members of Calvary Presbyterian Church in Alexandria, Virginia, have put time and energy into the Eagle’s Wings Tutoring Program, which supports the students of Mount Eagle Elementary, a school right across the street from the church.

The students come from 40 countries and speak 28 languages, and many are needy, disadvantaged, or have struggles with the English language.  The members of Calvary know that these children are burdened because it is hard for students to stand up straight when they cannot understand their assignments and participate in class.  So church members offer tutoring every Wednesday night—in an effort to help them stand up straight, and to establish relationships with these students and parents.

A member of the Mount Eagle faculty tells how these children often lack the confidence to speak up in class saying, “But, when they come to Calvary, and get that tutoring, that reinforcement, that care and compassion, they are made ready to raise their hands.  It makes a difference.”

One-on-one tutoring is a critical intervention in the lives of needy and disadvantaged students.  It is in line with the work that Jesus did to free the oppressed and bring good news to the poor.  Christians who serve in this way are helping children to stand up straight.  After serving in this way, tutors and students and parents can proudly.  “Boom!  Mic drop.”

Move 3

Jesus also show us Christians that we are called to speak the truth to power, just as he did when he blasted people who objected to his work of healing on the Sabbath.  But it too is an immense task, which begs us to ask, how—how are we to speak truth to power?

*******

          Truth-telling was done last year when clergy members from across the state of Georgia traveled to Atlanta to criticize the governor’s plan to block Syrian refugees.

Deacon Alyssa Aldape, from First Baptist Church of Dalton, Georgia, pointed out that “In the gospels we have a Savior who was born a refugee child, and who was seeking refuge for the first years of his life.”  As an immigrant herself, Aldape said to 11Alive News in November of last year, that she experienced a warm welcome when she first arrived in Georgia, and she wanted to provide that same comfort to refugees fleeing the violence in Syria.

Pastor Donna Mote serves as the Episcopal chaplain at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport where every week, she greets refugee families arriving in the United States.  She reiterated during interviews of her own the often overlooked truth that “No one enters our country as a refugee, with refugee status, without having been thoroughly vetted.  Our process works, and these people need help.”

These clergy spoke the truth to power, stressing the importance of showing Christian hospitality to those who were in need.  While they know that our country needs a strong screening system to keep us safe, they side with Jesus in wanting to ease the suffering of fellow human beings and so they use their voice to remind those in power the ways of Jesus.

Move 4

Laws certainly have a place in our national and religious lives.  On the whole, our Christian tradition encourages us to be law-abiders and commandment-keepers.  Jesus himself said that he came not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it.  But let us also remember that Jesus also made it clear “the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Sabbath day or not, it is always good and right to celebrate a healing and a victory over hypocrisy.  When a crippled woman is healed, shame on anyone who gets hung up on religious law about Sabbath-keeping regulations.  Jesus knows that God’s focus is on the needs of the woman, not on the letter of the law.

Jesus was clear that his mission was to bring good news to the poor, release to the captives, and freedom to the oppressed.  And in response to Jesus, a church in Virginia made an effort to tutor kids so they could stand-up straight once again.  “Ought not this woman be set free from this bondage on the Sabbath day?”  The answer in the time of Jesus was “yes,” and it is still “yes” today.

Clergy in Georgia took a stand in support of receiving refugees, and urged their elected officials to do the same.  Then they prayed with members of the governor’s staff, in hopes of a faithful outcome.  They spoke truth to power and put into action what Jesus not only calls us to do, but models for us through actual, physical, tangible, faithful, movements.  “When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame.”  In each of those examples of bold faithfulness, there was a, “Boom!  Mic drop.”

Conclusion

In a synagogue in Galilee, Jesus freed the oppressed and spoke the truth to power.  His actions healed a crippled woman and put his opponents to shame.  Today, Jesus challenges us to do the very same.

Maybe our mission is to tutor disadvantaged children, or assist battered women, or fight sex trafficking, or work with substance abusers, or welcome refugees, or support pregnant teenagers or participates in creation care—but no matter what it is, like Jesus, we can take faithful stands of action as we free the oppressed and speak the truth to power.

*******

          Luke tells us that the healed woman immediately began praising God and the entire crowd rejoiced at all the wonderful things that Jesus was doing.

The good news is that these actions lead to celebration, not condemnation; to rejoicing, instead of rejection.  It was “Boom!  Mic drop.” by Jesus.  And when we live and serve in like manner, we too can “Boom!  Mic drop.” Just like Jesus.  Amen.

Pastoral Prayer

God of life, you know that your whole creation groans under the weight of how the world has become.  We are bent, doubled over, unable to stand up straight and face the tasks before us with the vision, drive, and intent that we want.  We are in need holy one—in need of the wholeness that comes from your Son Jesus who reconciles us from this world, back to you.

So we pray you again send to us the reconciling Christ, so that he may bless our efforts to bring about reconciliation, giving us the strength to persevere without counting the hurts, and to find within ourselves the capacity to keep on loving.

We pray you again send to us the reconciling Christ, so that he may give us the grace to be able to stand in the middle of situations, and be a conduit for the deep listening which can lead to healing and forgiveness.

We pray that you again send to us the reconciling Christ to help us conduct ourselves with dignity, generosity, and expecting respect, moving from prayer to action, and from action back again into prayer.

We pray that you again send to us the reconciling Christ that we may be so grounded in your love, that our security is not threatened if we change our minds, or begin to see a better way to act.

And we pray that you again send to us the reconciling Christ to bless those who are called to reconcile on a large-scale— politicians, world leaders, leaders of business, and those who stand in the midst of bitter conflict.  May they be blessed with the words and presence and fortitude to help those who have been bended by this world stand up straight and receive the healing they need, and deserve.

God of life, send to us again the reconciling Christ, so that we all are blessed and that we all are made ready to stand up straight and engage in the sacred work of envisioning new wholeness, and bringing people and nations together.

Hear now we ask the prayers of our hearts, offered in this time of holy silence.

All this we pray in the name of our reconciling Christ, Jesus, our Savior, who makes us whole, and teaches us to pray, saying, “Our…”

 

 

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