January 30, 2019
Pastor Cathy Daharsh
In our Revealed Winter Read this week, Jesus returns to his hometown of Nazareth. He goes to the synagogue and is asked to read the scriptures. He opens the scroll to Isaiah 61. When he finishes the reading, he announces that the prophecy is fulfilled in their hearing, that is, God is acting in and through him to fulfill God’s promise.
In that moment, Jesus finds himself labeled and judged. Because of this judgement, Jesus’ chance for ministry is limited. While the people in Nazareth are excited about his fame and the miracles he performs, what he says sets them off. They can’t hear what he’s saying because they know his background. He played with their children, attended their schools, and worked alongside his father in the carpenter’s shop. They label him as Joseph’s son and Mary’s boy. They do not see him as the Messiah and Son of God. They’re offended by his ministering to those in need and not the faithful of Israel. They’re angry when he suggests that God’s favors those outside Israel, the widow of Zarephath and Naaman the Syrian, and not their own widows and lepers.
Like the people in Nazareth, all of us have our ideas and assumptions about how God should be and how the world should function. Our ideas can limit us and can blind us to God’s possibilities. The Gospel reading this week challenges us to examine our preconceived ideas about God. Jesus causes them to be unsettled by calling for change in how outsiders are treated.
Even though we don’t always understand God’s challenge to us to care for those who struggle in our world, God never, ever gives up on you and me or the world God created. God is patient. God celebrates that we are all God’s children, that everyone has something to offer, and that each of us is made in God’s image. God wants to open our eyes to the possibilities of what God’s love can accomplish in and through our lives and the lives of others, no matter who we are, what we’ve done, and what we believe to be our background.
Here are some questions for you to reflect on for the week:
When have you labeled yourself or been labeled by others in a way that has limited what you thought you could do?
When and how has God helped you to overcome your preconceived ideas about others? How has that opened up new possibilities?
How might seeing everyone as a “beloved child of God” open up new possibilities?
How might valuing others help lead us to experience their contributing to the good of the community?
Gracious God, we confess that we are quick to judge others and label them. In doing so we hurt people. We limit the possibilities of what others might do and who they might become. Help us to use only one label when we describe others, “Beloved, child of God.” Help us see the gifts each person brings to build up the community in Christ. Amen.