Luke 4:22-30

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. Luke 4:22-30

Christmas must be coming soon – I got an email this morning telling me that the presents that I ordered for our grandchildren will be arriving on Thursday. Pressure!!! I know that it is better to give than to receive but I feel a lot of pressure when it comes to what we give. We want them to like, appreciate, and use the gifts we give. The pressure comes because I know how people are – even kids have an innate sense of FAIRNESS.

FAIRNESS defined as “No one else better get a better deal than me or it’s not fair!”

At some point we all need to come to grips with the reality that, as God continues to create the world, “fairness” doesn’t seem to be a high priority. Diversity, yes. Abundance, yes. Interconnectedness, yes. Interdependence, yes. Fairness, no.

We don’t like that. We fight against it. We team up against one another. Someone buys up all the toilet paper. We decide some people, places, and things are better than others. Over against all of that, God calls us to work for justice, for equity (which is different than equality.) And if that means that Elijah was sent to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon, or that Naaman the Syrian would be cured of his leprosy, so be it.

That is what enraged the crowd. They didn’t want to hear that THEIR God did good things for THOSE people. Especially when they were all convinced that God ought to do more for THEM!

Somehow the message didn’t get through. The initial promise to Abraham in Genesis 12 couldn’t be more clear. They were blessed (which isn’t fair) so that, through them, all the nations of the world would be blessed (whether or not that’s fair.) But somehow along the way, that message got lost. Kind of like “All men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights” sounded great but, right off the bat, didn’t include Native Americans or enslaved people.

Along comes Jesus. He isn’t bringing something new but he is intent on bringing what he has to all people. ALL means ALL. His hometown was willing to shut him down right from the start, to throw him off a cliff. But there is another way to shut him down – and that is to co-opt his message. To change it. To soften it. To qualify it. To add lots of “but what about?’s” to it.

But that crowd couldn’t shut him down. We ought not either.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, the reach of your love knows no ending. The good news of your love is grounded in justice, in equity, in reconciliation, in peace. May we too be filled with the Spirit that guided and protected you as we continue to seek the world as you created it to be, each doing our little parts as we are willing and able. In Jesus’ name.

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