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“When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zaccheus, hurry and come down.’”

There’s a running joke in our house. Whenever one of us says goodbye to leave for the day, we know that what we’re really saying is, “Goodbye in 20 minutes from now.” 

Often in my hurried state, and maybe you can relate, I forget my keys; whoops, I still have to brush my teeth; and, where’s that book I was supposed to bring? I intend to leave the house, but inevitably it takes another 20 minutes before I’ve gathered up all of the things I actually need for the day. 

We are a people “in a hurry” in this day and age. In 2019, Vancouver International Airport was the second busiest airport in the country, enplaning and deplaning 25.7 million people in one year. This number fell to 7.2 million when the pandemic hit in 2020. A recent study done by McDonald’s—the fast food chain—reported that families in Canada have, on average, about 50 minutes mid-week to sit down and share a meal together. The things that made the week so busy? Parents’ work schedules; kids’ sports and extracurricular activities; and social commitments.

McDonald’s used the data from the study to inform their “Family Nights” campaign: “Wednesday night meals, which include free kid-friendly crafts and games, as well as dedicated McDonald’s staff to offer table service, ensure high chairs are clean and available, lead activities, and surprise and delight kids with balloons and other giveaways.”

Now, if you’re expecting a sermon that throws shade at parents for being too busy to cook, or a sermon that hates on McDonald’s, this isn’t that sermon. Growing up, my mom took us to McDonald’s every Thursday night before choir, and that 2-cheeseburger meal (super size the fries only) is a favourite childhood memory. Parents, you are busy and it’s no surprise: in addition to having the second busiest airport in the country, Vancouver is also the most expensive city in Canada to live in. You have to work a lot to make enough to live and play in this city. 

What if there was a way for us to find within what feels like the inevitable hurry of our lives, moments of “holy hurry?” Here’s what I mean by that.

There’s a word that the gospel writer puts on the lips of Jesus in our story this morning, when he looks up at Zaccheus and says, “hurry and come down!”. It’s the same word the writer uses when talking about the Shepherds in the nativity story who hurry to see Jesus in the manger. The word, in the original Greek, is something akin to the old English phrase “make haste!” 

Remember, these are shepherds who are busy tending to their sheep, working folk who probably could’ve done without the interruption of angels telling them to drop everything in pursuit of a newborn baby. But, “make haste” is exactly what they do. From right within their busy lives, they “went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in a manger.”

Likewise, Zaccheus “makes haste” when Jesus calls him down from that tree. Zaccheus is a faithful Jew, an old school friend of Peter, John, and the rest of the boys. Much to their constant disappointment, Zaccheus now works for the Roman Empire collecting taxes from the people oppressed under Roman rule. He’s the last person you’d expect to set everything aside to follow Jesus. 

Imagine the level of transformation that could take place if we were to hold even just one or two moments of hurry open to God’s interruption? For Zaccheus, he winds up giving away half of his wealth to the poor and paying back anyone he’d ever screwed over. If Jesus makes this kind of transformation possible for a first century tax collector and ‘sinner’, imagine what he could do for you and me?

The threefold Celtic-Christian festival we celebrate this time of year marks what is perhaps the biggest interruption one can experience in life: death. Allhallowtide is a time to remember those we love who we see no longer. This time of remembrance always brings me back to the great interruption that was my grandmother's death. I was flying home from a friend's wedding; I had a dream job at a Cathedral in my hometown. Life was full; life was busy. And then, there was my father's voice on the other end of the phone while I stood speechless in an airport still in motion. She was my sole grandparent; I loved her dearly. There was so much I had yet to share with her. 

And, there was so much I did share with her. She was the one who taught me to pay attention to moments of holiness amidst my hurried young adult life: the way Debenhams jumpers smelled when they came all the way from England; stopping everything to watch yorkshire puddings rise in the oven, lest they burn while I was preoccupied checking my social media. 

Perhaps one day we will be so fortunate as to experience the kind of interruption to a hurried life that Zaccheus and the Shepherds experienced. In the meantime, maybe we can pause during those 50 minutes midweek—at the dinner table, over a happy meal—to ask our family members or friends where in their day they experienced kindness and compassion, or stillness and the glimmer of transformation—'God-winks', as a friend likes to call them? 

I’ll conclude my sermon this morning with a quote from the Swiss philosopher and poet, Henri Frédéric Amiel. Amiel lost his parents at an early age and he himself died at age 59. He lived a brief, busy life and left in his journal these immortal words: “Life is short; we do not have much time to gladden the hearts of those who [travel] this way with us. So, be swift to love, and make haste to be kind.”


Works cited:

“New study reveals that today's busy lifestyles are causing Canadian families to eat together less” accessed online at:

“Airport Activity, 2020” accessed online at Statistics Canada: