On “losing the plot”
“He’s totally lost the plot.”
That would be the way that my British friends would describe someone who has lost touch with reality, gone a tad irrational, or perhaps (more seriously) is suffering a significant mental health breakdown.
And it’s an incredibly apt way to put it.
When you “lose the plot,” you find yourself disoriented, confused, and undoubtedly anxious, because you can’t quite put it all together. The story of your life has lost its sense of meaning, direction and hope.
It is no wonder, then, that much of what we do in personal psychotherapy is deep plot restoration. Something is amiss. The story isn’t making sense. You’ve hit a dead end. Your story has reached an impasse, a plot conflict, and you can’t find a way to resolution.
Or maybe the story has a plot that no longer rings true. Maybe there were past moments of plot tension, betrayal, trauma and perhaps abuse that make it impossible to find a new plot, a new narrative meaning to your life.
Well, that’s when we are on the precipice of “losing the plot.”
When Paul was writing to the young Christian community in Colossae, he was worried that they might lose the plot.
And well might he have worried. They were so young in their Christian faith that they didn’t yet have very deep roots in the story of Jesus. This was a plot under constant threat.
So the apostle writes to encourage their faith and to warn them.
With a sense of parental affection and protection he wants to secure them against stories, worldviews and ideologies that would strip them of their identity in Christ, rob them of their freedom in Christ, and take them captive to visions that look good, but are a sham.
In a phrase, he doesn’t want them “to lose the plot.”
And the best way not “to lose the plot” is by finding your life ever more deeply embedded in the plot-structure of the story of Jesus.
That’s why, in Colossians 2 and the beginning of chapter 3, with the repetition of the phrase “in him,” Paul persistently identifies the story of Jesus as the story of these Colossian Christians.
In him you have died.
In him you have been buried.
In him you have been raised.
So set your minds on the one who sits at the right hand of God in heaven.
For when he is revealed, so also will you be revealed.
There it is.
The basic plot line of the life of Jesus:
Or as we so often say together in the Eucharist,
Christ has died,
Christ has risen,
Christ will come again.
And Paul is saying that the story of Jesus, is the story of his followers.
What happened to Jesus, happens to us.
Paul writes a letter to this community so they will understand the plot, and not lose it.
That’s really why we gather on Tuesday mornings as well.
Most of us have felt, at one time or another, like we are losing the plot.
We’ve had these painful experiences of our story coming apart.
And often enough, it has been a story about Jesus, or at least a particular telling of that story, a particular way in which that story has been taken up in destructive ways, that has so deeply bruised us.
So we gather at a table of remembrance. We tell the story anew, listening for a plot that sets us free, rather than holds us captive. We sing that story as a liberation song. We are invited into the story of Jesus as a healing story, a story of deep forgiveness, a story that has a plot that goes beyond death to resurrection.
We come together, dear friends, so that we don’t lose the plot.
We come together, beloved siblings, as if our life depends on this story.
And it does.
This week at Wine Before Breakfast: Colossians 2.16-3.4:
Beth Carlson Malena will be preaching. She knows something about finding ourselves in the story of Jesus.
Luke McRae will set the table and Andrew Asbil will serve the meal of remembrance.
Kiegan Irish has crafted our prayers.
Amanda Jagt has curated our worship.
And Deb Whalen and the bandhood are mixing up some Laura Marling, Curtis Mayfield, a little gospel and some classic hymns to help us find the plot anew, in case we were losing it.
And remember, friends, WBB is called to be a community of hospitality. So if you’ve got some friends looking for a plot to make sense out of their lives, invite them to our story-telling gathering on an early Tuesday morning.