February 3, 2019
On this fourth Sunday after Epiphany, we hear the reaction / response of those hearing Jesus’ first sermon preached at his Nazareth synagogue. It’s hard to grasp what Jesus said, or what this synagogue congregation heard, that set them off. I’m thinking, since they’d heard reports of the marvels Jesus had worked in nearby regions, places where there were fewer synagogues, more aliens and foreigners, a high number of backsliding Jews, and even heretic-Jews known as Samaritans, these folks were expecting some big-time payoffs from Jesus.
It’s also intriguing to see how calmly Jesus reacts, once so severely attacked by what he must have thought was a friendly, hometown crowd. Jesus tells these folks, his model for mission and ministry – who his mission is directed toward and the kind of ministry he’ll exercise to achieve the mission – is like the people’s ancestral prophets. Prophets who spoke against insider arrogance and prophets who demonstrated the inclusive, lavishness of God’s steadfast love, first, to outsiders.
At our 9:30 A.M., Sunday worship, in prayer, Word, song, sermon and Meal, we’ll meet, again, the Jesus who knew how strong God’s love is. God doesn’t require our weapons. God isn’t made safer, stronger, or more believable by our violent words or deeds. Holy wars don’t promote respect for God. God’s existence doesn’t depend on us, and God’s will is far larger than our small causes. Unleashing our destructive passions may make us feel better, but we should be under no illusion our doing so serves God in any way.