This week we are the “back nine” of the lesson that we started last week. We get to hear how Jesus speaks to the hometown faithful, how the faithful respond to being challenged (Luke 4.21-30) by Jesus for their long held privilege.
We must get the mission into our lives – through hearing the word of God and understanding how we are to respond to what we have heard. And this is not just about listening to the Scriptures as they are read to us, it is also about hearing how Jesus is proclaimed in our midst through the Sermon, and how we recite our belief in the articles of the Creed and how we pray in the Prayers of the People, including the General Confession and believe it or not the Peace. The response that we make to the reading, exposition and hearing of the word is faith, prayer, and extending the right hand of fellowship to one another.
Then we need to get the mission straight within our lives. We do this by acknowledging the presence of the Spirit on our lives to teach us and lead us. Therefore, we need to learn to listen to the Spirit and what the Spirit is saying to us through the word and through prayer - this includes the Eucharistic Prayer which reminds us of how much God loves us and how far Jesus would go to express that love in visible and tangible ways, including the cross. We need to know the story of salvation and to understand that we are not alone in proclaiming the Good News of God in Christ. We have the Spirit and we have each other to celebrate and to commiserate with.
Then we need to go and live out the word in the strength of the Spirit and do what God is asking us to do so that the kingdom can be made real in the lives of people. We need to understand and be ready to deal with things that come our way. We need to be ready to give the reason for the hope that we have within us and the joy that we live in.
Most maybe aren’t aware, that there are two sides to a sermon: (1) there is the preparation and the preaching of a sermon and then (2) there is the hearing and demonstration of a sermon. Most people are present or aware of the hours that go into a sermon – even the poor ones. The reading and research that needs to happen so that the preacher can be enabled to show Jesus to his or her listeners is extensive. Plus, there is a lot of listening that goes on in meetings, visits to different places and time with different people. Coupled to this is the where the hearer of the sermon is at, with all the things that they come with: family problems, money concerns, worries about the children; not personal thoughts and beliefs about God and themselves. All of these things come to bear on what they are hearing as the preacher is preaching.
Which leads me back to the reaction of the hometown folks, when Jesus confronts them and says to them, “Physician, heal yourself” … you know, go on, impress us! In fact, Mark tells us that he could not do much in his own home town accept heal a few people. Why? Because those who knew him and his family weren’t able to believe the news that he was communicating – after all he was just the carpenter’s son. What does he know!?!
Some amazing and amazingly hard things happen when divine grace meets human privilege. Speaking the things of God from the heart of God to the people of God is a fearful thing. Keep in mind that prophets and preacher alike know the hearts of the people they are sent to – remember Jonah, the only prophet God had t speak to twice, to get him going in the right direction?
What is the core of our mission? To know Christ and to make Christ known in the world. What people do with Jesus once we have been faithful in giving people a clear message and a clear picture of who Jesus is and is for them – then there is a possibility. But our mission must be epiphanic: it must make Jesus real to the people around us. We need to be incarnational and embody Jesus to aid people in seeing and knowing him. Let us be that for him in his name.