Thursday, January 28, 2010

Your Hometown....

Then Jesus went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up...they were all well impressed with him and marvelled at the eloquent words that he spoke. They said, "Isn't he the son of Joseph?"...(Jesus said)You will also tell me to do here in my hometown the same things you heard were done in Capernaum. I tell you this, prophets are never welcomed in their home town."(Luke 4:16,22-24)

It is so easy for us as Christians to think of the church as our 'hometown'. We are the only ones who belong here. We are the ones who have a right to be here. We become preoccupied with our 'hometown'. We worry about security. We concern ourselves with keeping the 'families' of our 'hometown' together in the community we have always known. We assume that God should work within the framework that we have erected as our 'home'.

What happens then is that the mission of the Church becomes simply maintaining the status quo and taking care of the people who are on our books rather that bringing the good news of Jesus to those ' those 'gentiles'.

God's mission is different. It is all about the sinner...the outsider...the gentile. God's mission is all about risking everything for the Kingdom. God's mission is about embracing change, challenge and newness. God's mission is facing the future as an unknown.

Luke often uses 'the way' to describe Jesus' ministry and the Christian life. We are a people who are called to be on 'the way'. Not building a secure fortress or even a safe romanticized 'hometown'. We are called to follow walk with him. For the Christian life is very much the journey...but a journey that will take us to our true 'hometown'. The one created for us before time began. For our 'hometown', yours and mine, is not on this earth. It never was. Our 'hometown' is the kingdom in which Jesus is Lord. And as his words to Pilate remind us, his kingdom is not of this world.

Friday, January 22, 2010


In reading for the sermon this week I came across these words...a compilation of authors, but I think captures this verse beautifully. Read and reflect.

"Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." Luke 4:21

Will he tell them that the Isaiah text is:
a) pleasant nostalgia about the past work of God to bring the exiles home


b) pie in the sky, a far-out promise to be fulfilled by God in heaven?

No. Jesus rejects both of these readings and offers an alternative: Today. Today, with all its ambiguity, all its expectations, disappointments and compromises. Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing. Again, the finite is capable of bearing the infinite.

Often when we pray we are trying to get God to give us our ideal pain-free world. God, on the other hand wants us to accept the reality of his presence in this pain-ridden world. Today is always today.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Water into wine....

Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. (John 2:6)

I have been reflecting on the story of Jesus turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana that is written in John 2:1-11. What captures my interest is not so much the sign of God's power that is revealed in the event, but the stone jars.

These 6 stone jars had one purpose. They were to hold water. Water that was used for washing. For the most part they would have been placed in the background somewhere, out of the way, undisturbed until someone needed some water. Jesus uses these jars in such a new way that they become a key in the celebration of life and love that is going on all around them. He changes them from water containers to wine dispensers. One author, whose name escapes me at this time, wrote that though water is life and most certainly in place such as Cana, wine brings a fullness to life. Celebration. Joy. Richness.

I like this image for a number of reasons. For one thing, sometimes it is easy for us, as Lutheran Christians, to feel part of the background. It might be age, traditions, reserved nature, ethnic background, who knows, but there are things that often make us believe (and feel) that we are left standing in the background while much of the world and the church celebrate. Another thing is that when we do think about change there is the immediate temptation to abandon who we are and what makes us unique as a part of the body of Christ. But in this story Jesus uses these stone jars whose role to this point has been to hold water and fills them wine. They were still the same stone jars. Probably remained in the same place a little to one side in the celebration and yet through his divine power their role was changed. From them the wine, the fine wine, flowed and the party continued.

When I reflect on this it reminds me that God never abandons one part of his church for another. God does not expect us all to be the same nor to become something we are not. All God asks of us is that we be willing to be useful for him in whatever role he gives us, in whatever opportunity he opens before us, in whatever manner he requires of us. Whether that be as water containers or wine dispensers.