It was so much sooner than the Disciples would have expected when their lives changed. The Disciples had seen so much since they had begun following Jesus just a brief while before. And even though it had only been for a brief while, the Disciples saw that he was like no one else they had ever known, even though it had only been for a brief while, they had already seen the world turned upside down.
The Disciples grew up in a world that had a social order. That’s no surprise, there is a social order today, there was a social order then. In the Disciple’s day, the social order was that social rank was considered synonymous with the favor of God: Money and power and health, these were thought to be gifts straight from God. But the opposite was true too, for those who were different, and those who were unlucky, and those who were unhealthy, their suffering and misfortune were thought to be due to the judgment of God. And so people lived in fear of being forsaken by their community, where even a minor illness or injury could result in their being shunned, being pushed mercilessly and irrevocably to the gutters and the streets, there to serve as a cautionary tale to stay on God’s good side. It was a double curse, misfortune was misinterpreted as the judgment of God. This was the social order the Disciples knew.
But then came this man Jesus—a man of God. And the Disciples could see that Jesus always cared so much for the sick, he always cared so much for the downtrodden, and had little but rebuke to offer the comfortable and powerful. Jesus would pick up forsaken people, and restore them to dignity, and restore them to their community, to parents and siblings and friends, parents and siblings and friends who saw for the first time that the judgment of God was not upon those weak and suffering, God’s judgment was upon those strong ones who heaped suffering on the weak. Upside down. The Disciples saw in Jesus the world turned upside down.
The Disciples followed Jesus because he was like no one else in the world, and the Disciples followed not wishing to miss a single marvelous word he spoke, not wanting to let him out of their sight for a minute lest they miss one of his inexplicable wonders. Jesus was turning the world upside down and the Disciples wanted to be there to watch him do it.
It was so much sooner than the Disciples would have expected when their lives changed. Just a few brief while after they began to follow Jesus, he took them aside, off by themselves and said—you all, you twelve are now going to go and do all these same things I have been doing. You will be the ones performing wonders, you will be the ones restoring the forsaken to dignity, you will be the ones to declare that God has good news to share, you’ll be the ones to turn the world upside down. What? We can’t do that? How are we supposed to do that? Wait—Jesus wasn’t done! He said—Don’t bother taking anything with you, because nothing you own will help. Don’t bother preparing, because there is no way to teach what it means to encounter another. Take nothing, and you’ll have everything you need, you’ll have and a hurting world in need, and you have faith, and you’ll have one another. And in the suffering of others, you will see your own suffering, and in the healing of others you yourselves will be healed.
And in just a few short words, the story is told by the good news according to Mark.
So the Disciples went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.
And just like that, the good news was no longer about the amazing things that this man Jesus could do that no one else could do. Just like that, the good news was about what God could through those who followed Jesus, who had faith, the good news was about what God was doing in the world.
The Disciples had begun to follow Jesus because they wanted to know what amazing things he would do. Jesus called them to be his disciples to show them what amazing things they would do, to call them to turn the world upside down. It was so much sooner than the disciples would have expected when their lives changed, when they were called to things they never would have believed themselves capable of doing. But then again, it always seems too soon to be called to doing something you never knew you could do.
Today we are celebrating the rite of confirmation, the act of the church whereby people who have grown up in the church become full and equal members of the church. Confirmation is the act of the church whereby Audrey and Graciela and Elizabeth take up the mantle of the work of the church equally as any other person, when it becomes their responsibility to turn the world upside down, to shape the world into how God dreams it might be, to shape their own spirit into how God dreams they might be. You three now stand on the same footing as did any of the greatest saints of the Christian faith. You have every single thing that you need to change the whole world, to turn the world upside down if need be. You have a hurting world in need, and you have faith, and you have one another. I will not try to tell you what it is that you should do in the world, what wrongs you should right, what fights you should fight. I will not try to tell you what God is calling you to do in the world because God will let you know—God has given you a conscience, you already know the stories of the Bible, stories about Jesus, and Mary, and Moses. You have everything: you have a hurting world in need, and you have faith, and you have one another. The world has need of faithful Christians, God has need of faithful Christians—today that work is yours to do. If it seems too soon or too sudden to be tasked with a Christian life, to be tasked with shaping the world and yourselves into the way God dreams it would be, if it seems too soon, take heart it always seems too soon to be called to doing something you never knew you could do.