Thursday, January 28, 2010

Epiphany 4c - Luke 4:21-30

The sermon that began so well has taken a turn for the worse and Jesus has no one to blame but himself. Somewhere in the well speaking and amazement his gracious words have taken on an edge and the home town crowd is not amused. At first glance it looks like Jesus is provoking without provocation. So maybe Luke the historian left out some details. Maybe there’s a heckler in the last pew or shouts of “prove it” when Joseph’s boy claims his father is a higher power. On the other hand Jesus is not doing something here that he won’t do elsewhere and for the next three years a lot of places will begin to feel like home. Before we judge the home town crowd too harshly we might ask ourselves what words of Jesus might prompt us to do him in? It’s more likely given our ability to rationalize hard sayings and contain the difficult in dogmatic boxes nothing Jesus says can upset us very much unless of course it’s about someone else. Then we puff up with self righteous pride and use Jesus’ words to throw the less pious or too pious or not pious enough off the hill upon which our rigid theologies are built. The word of Jesus is that God stepped outside the boundaries of God’s own people to bless a foreigner and an oppressor. In the same way God will not be contained within our constructs of who is deserving and who isn’t, who belongs and who doesn’t and even who is saved and who isn’t because that belongs to the one who climbed another hill and didn’t come down until he was finished.


  1. Phil - Your focus on our own rigid beliefs hits home. It's hard to imagine that Jesus would take a shot at the people just because they're from Nazareth. But it's not hard to imagine that the synagogue of Nazareth might have gone adrift and might have become rigid, or arrogant, or self-righteous, or judgmental, or any of those things that congregations then - and now - tend to do.

  2. Too true. But to be fair the faith was set up to be rigid and maybe ours is as well. The problem seems to be (and I'm borrowing these terms from someone I read) hard cover catechisms interacting with loose leaf lives. We need parameters and at the same time the freedom to act outside of them.