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Friday, February 19, 2016

Today’s Reading | Luke 4:14–30

Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone. 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. (NRSV)

“You can never go back home again.”

Something strange happens when we grow up and move away from home (even if not very far). No matter how positive or negative one’s home life or family may have been during childhood, a fundamental shift occurs once we begin making choices for our individual trajectory, whether involving career, geography, partnership, ideology, or anything else. “Going back home” isn’t home the same way anymore, and similarly, the life we create beyond that home isn’t always fully recognized by those still there. Nostalgic memories can’t be recreated, and the adult we become may go unnoticed by those who knew us as a child.

Jesus encounters this early on in his ministry. Although he is “filled with the power of the Spirit,” has just survived intense trial, and is “praised by everyone” around Galilee, coming home to Nazareth is treacherous. When he proclaims fulfillment of the prophetic text given him to read in his home synagogue, those gathered are “amazed.” Eugene Peterson’s The Message states they were “surprised at how well he spoke. . . . ‘Isn’t this Joseph’s son, the one we’ve known since he was a youngster?’” They were blinded by Jesus the boy from seeing Jesus the man, the teacher, the healer. When he then challenges their preconceptions by declaring the broader scope of his ministry, they attempt to kill him.

While hopefully no murder attempts are made on your or my life when we visit “home,” it can challenge the life of our hopes, dreams, or identity. Even well-meaning questions or attempts to help can feel difficult. Thanks be to God who walks alongside us and for those who become our “home” community wherever we are today.

O wholly understanding parent and sibling God, thank you for the people and places of my childhood and the communities you surround me with now. Help me find rest in the home that is you. Amen.

Written by Sarah van der Ploeg, Member of the Morning Choir

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