Home. It is the place where we don’t have to ask if we can come in and where there will always be a welcome no matter where you have been, how great or bad you are, or how late it has gotten. There is hopefully a place like that for all of us that we call home. And the way that Luke describes Nazareth like that for Jesus. It was the place that nourished Jesus from the time he was little until he left to find his cousin John receive baptism and go into the wilderness.
When he comes home again he does what he has been doing all along: he goes to the Synagogue and is invited to preach – because they have heard about what he has done elsewhere. There is a certain amount of expectation that he is going to do something spectacular because, after all he is one of them. He follows his usual pattern but only to a point. They applaud him for his kind words and declaring that salvation is coming and that there is going to be freedom.
Bu then things get harder and worse and difficult because Jesus also tells them that there will be no grand demonstration of grace and power because they were expecting something without really believing in him. Jesus then goes onto point out that enemies of Israel were save in the days of both Elijah and Elisha but not any of the widows and orphans in Israel. In doing so Jesus pointed out to them that the Gospel is for those who know their need of God and his salvation and are ready to received it – regardless of who they are. The Good news of God is meant not just for the few or the nation. It is meant for everyone who knows their need of God and is willing to put their faith in Jesus.
Having been accused of wanting a dog and pony show and worse of being faithless, many in the own are enraged and they move Jesus out of the synagogue out into the streets and to the edge of the hill on which their town is built so that they can throw Jesus off of it and stone him to death. The situation becomes in a real sense, a “cliff-hanger”. Yet Jesus walks away and takes his disciples and makes for Capernaum.
What does this all mean? Well, I think first what we can take from Isaiah and from Luke is the understanding that God is in control. And just as importantly, he has anointed his servant and sent him as an ambassador from him to us, to you and to me. And Jesus has been sent for a purpose: to fix the broken hearted, to free those bound by sin and despair and to find those who are lost and in need of God’s salvation and bring them home to the Father. Most of all, Jesus and by extension, his Church, is sent to proclaim jubilee – freedom from all debt and a clean slate in life so that one can begin again.
And if God is in control, then it is God’s mission that we are on, not our own. Did Jesus himself not say to his own disciples, "You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.” (John 15.16 ESV) I take this to mean that God wants spiritual fruit from all of us not for some of us to be religious nuts.
One of the things that I think is important for us in terms of remembering, is to realize that God is not calling us to be what we were in the 1970’s and 80’s. Many think that this was the golden aged of the parish and the diocese. It is often thought of as the “good old daze”. Either we own our past or it will own us. Those days carry powerful memories for many including myself but we are not there anymore and if we continue to put our hand to the plow and keep looking back we are going to find that we are of no use to the kingdom to which we are called.
We must become a fresh revelation of the man Jesus Christ to the city in which we live. As a pastor, priest and teacher of the Church, I present Christ to all of you through word and sacrament so that together, we can represent Christ to this city. We can do these things because we have sought and seen Christ in worship and prayer together. Thus, as we live our lives, others can be shown who Christ is through who and what we are and are becoming.
We must treat others better than ourselves – those who are less honourable with dignity and with more honour; to share the pain and difficulties of another. In short we are not to live like the rest of our culture but rather to live as God would have us live. Even if that means that we must live counter culturally to the world around us and potentially in conflict with the wider culture. Be prepare to be more like Jesus and understand that we may become a sign to be spoken against, even within the Church.
Most of all, remember that the Gospel is meant for every person you meet. Live so that you can shine the light and the life of Christ in your own life; so that others may see Christ in you and give glory to our heavenly Father. We do this for him and for the sake of the coming kingdom.