After the Brick Hits

Jan 21 2018


“A young and successful executive was traveling down a neighborhood street, going a bit too fast in his new Jaguar. He was watching for kids darting out from between parked cars and slowed down when he thought he saw something. As his car passed, no children appeared. Instead, a brick smashed into the Jag’s side door! He slammed on the brakes and backed the Jag back to the spot where the brick had been thrown.

The angry driver then jumped out of the car, grabbed the nearest kid, and pushed him up against a parked car shouting, “What was that all about and who are you? Just what the heck are you doing? That’s a new car and that brick you threw is going to cost a lot of money. Why did you do it?”

The young boy was apologetic, “Please, mister…please, I’m sorry, but I didn’t know what else to do,” he pleaded. “I threw the brick because no one else would stop….” With tears dripping down his face and off his chin, the youth pointed to a spot just around a parked car. “It’s my brother,” he said.

“He rolled off the curb and fell out of his wheelchair and I can’t lift him up.” Now sobbing, the boy asked the stunned executive, “Would you please help me get him back into his wheelchair? He’s hurt and he’s too heavy for me.” Moved beyond words, the driver tried to swallow the rapidly swelling lump in his throat.

He hurriedly lifted the handicapped boy into the wheelchair, then took out a linen handkerchief and dabbed at the boy’s fresh scrapes and cuts. A quick look told him everything was going to be okay. “Thank you and may God bless you,” the grateful child told the stranger.

Too shook up for words, the man simply watched the boy push his wheelchair-bound brother down the sidewalk toward their home. It was a long, slow walk back to the Jaguar. The damage was very noticeable, but the driver never bothered to repair the dented side door. He kept the dent there to remind him of this message, “Don’t go through life so fast that someone has to throw a brick at you to get your attention.”

God whispers in our souls and speaks to our hearts. Sometimes when we don’t have time to listen, he has to throw a brick at us. It’s our choice to listen or not. (Personal collection of illustrations.)

When Jesus called his disciples, they must have felt they had been hit by a brick, or perhaps it was their families that felt that way. We talked about the choices of disciples that Jesus made last week. This week, in the Mark’s Gospel we add one additional remark. They went “immediately.”

We don’t know a lot about the families of the disciples, but we can only imagine what they must have felt when they heard from someone else that Jesus had chosen one of their loved ones to serve. There were no cell phones on which to call. There were no telephones. If they were in the same city where they lived, they may have had a brief moment to tell their families, but according to Mark, they went immediately to serve Jesus.

None of them, as far as we know, had been disciples before. None of them really had any extensive religious training as far as we can determine. But Jesus felt they had one important ingredient upon which he could build – faith in God.

Where is our faith in the 21st century, what impact does our faith have on our lives? On the life of this church? It was not easy for those first disciples, but they made it – even after the death of their leader. When Jesus died, a very real brick was thrown through the windows of their lives and their faith.

Those types of bricks still happen today. A church is challenged by change. A family is challenged by a grave illness or death. A person is challenged by the loss of a job. And where is God in the equation? We call ourselves Christians. We profess a faith in God and a calling to follow the ways of Jesus as much as we can. But there are times when prayer is absent, respect is absent, and blame is directed at God or at others for a particular situation. Remember the old story about pointing fingers – when we point one finger at another, three fingers point back at us. We are called to reach out the hand of fellowship and love to all. Only if we actively choose to work together can we help our fellow members and our church to grow and prosper.

We are the modern day disciples. Bricks are still coming through the windows and will continue to come through the windows of our lives until we die. The best we can do is love and support one another. The disciples changed the course of history. Bricks didn’t stop them, and they shouldn’t stop us. What they did led people to look at God through new eyes 

21 centuries later, Christian churches around the world still spread the good news of the love of God as we have come to know it in the life of Jesus. Disciples of Jesus are still called, are still expected to have faith, and are still expected to carry the story of God’s love in Jesus forward.

That is the task of this and every other Christian church across this planet. We can only do what we can do and leave the rest to God. But if God is not a part of the equation, and if there is really no trust that God will guide us, then this place becomes a club and not a church.

There are experiences in the life of every church that feel like a brick is being thrown. The issue is not the brick; the issue is whether churches learn from it and involve God in the solution. Amen.