Instead of “The Word of the Lord,” imagine a new curate today proclaiming: “I am the Word of the Lord.” I can assure you the good people in the congregation would not be long setting that new minister straight. “Shocking gall!” would be the response, rather than the expected: “Thanks be to God.”
But our imagined curate’s response must have been what it sounded like to the clergy and lay leaders of Jesus’ home synagogue. Remember he was standing before the people who formed him. They knew the stories of his family and they knew him from childhood. “Isn’t he Mary’s son!” “Doesn’t he have a brother, James?!” They had taught him the ways of the faith through the words of the law and the prophets. But how did these sacred words get so turned around?
Our churches and homes, our schools and communities, are all places of formation. Young and old alike are given the opportunity to learn, integrate, change and grow. But when people change it alters our patterns and sense of security. We like the idea of change, but rarely does it come without some pain.
In the past few months I have been watching people profoundly change as they experience spiritual growth. People well into their eighties are sensing God in new ways they couldn’t have imagined. I wonder what forces will work on them in their parishes to support or quell that fire? Will their communities welcome their new found enthusiasm, their new ways, their yearning for more? It is easy to destroy fragile growth—a careless comment, gentle teasing, or just simply ignoring. Individuals can change, but their communities are far less resilient. What will our communities do when our people start to proclaim God’s Good News which to many may sound like bad news?
Are you spiritually growing? Do you feel free to talk about this growth with your family, friends, in your church? Is your growth welcomed in your church community? How does this growth and deeper relationship with God change how you see the church and your role within it?
On my heart this day I come before God and ask for insight in how to help prepare the soil for the growth that is coming.
LUKE 4:14-21 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 favour.” 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.”