Friday, February 3, 2017

Blessed Brokenness Part Three

When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free,  to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.  Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”  All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?”  He said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Doctor, cure yourself!’ And you will say, ‘Do here also in your hometown the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.’” And he said, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown.  But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land;  yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.”  When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage.  They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.

And I thought I had sermons that did not go well...but up this point no attempted cliff throwing yet.  I feel somewhat secure living in an elevationally-challenged flatland of Florida!  Quick review.  Jesus' birth is proclaimed as a sign of Good News...God interrupting and disrupting the world.  Jesus is sung to by angels and prophets and people of all sorts.  Jesus is baptized and claimed by God's belovedness.  Jesus is tempted.  And now...it is time for his sermon debut.

Jesus reads from a part of Scripture, Isaiah, that echoes Mary's hymn and John the Baptizer's sermon.  Jesus reads from a part of Scripture that will inspire perhaps a later sermon he gives on the plain as the beatitudes.  Jesus reads about the Spirit (that pesky Spirit) interrupting and disrupting out lives not to ignore the plight of the poor but to notice and respond as we are able.  Great passage.  Hopeful passage.  The congregation is feeling great.  Okay, boy-wonder, Jesus let's hear about how this passage is fulfilled.  Are you going to over throw Herod?  Are you going to help cure my sick uncle?  Are you going to help give us hope every day with your preaching?  I don't know exactly what was said when the crowd was "amazed" and "spoke generous/gracious words"...what I do know is that it sounds a bit like an echo of the temptation story.

It is always tempting in the church..as religious leaders...to let ride the wave of public opinion known as - "shaking hands at the back door".  If I ever invent a time machine, I am going back to the moment this became a thing and try to altar the course of history.  For me, worship/preaching/writing is an art.  Like any artist my ego gets wrapped up in what I put out there.  I am not neutral on a sermon or prayer or blog post.  It is my heart and soul out there.  Such vulnerability means that people's words matter...they can help puff up or hurt/harm.

Jesus upsets the apple cart of expectations...and challenges people.  He brings up Elijah...a pesky prophet who had the gall to go to a Gentile home and heal that person rather than help his own kind.  Rather than do what others wanted...he marched to a different beat of a drummer.  Too often, I find myself somewhere in the messy middle.  Wanting to respond to people...and also trying to be faithful to God's call for me in such a time as this.  Wanting to meet people where they are...but also knowing I can't be all things to all people.  I find solace in the fact that maybe this is a bit of where Jesus is at in the passage above.  He reaches out to his family/friends...but also know that God's expectations are most important.  I am not sure that gives me a crystal clear sense of what I need to do every day this week.  But it does tell me that when like Wiley E. Coyote I find myself dancing near the edge of the cliff...it is a good time to walk away.

May God's grace and that pesky Spirit stir in your life and help you live your discipleship in such a time as this.

Blessings ~~

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