Our January 30 Sunday worship service is available on video through Facebook. You may view it without being a member of Facebook. We are excited to say that our Sunday 8 & 10:30 am services are open again for in-person worship. Services will continue to be streamed online.
The February 6 Sunday worship service will be held with in-person attendance. We have returned to regular in-person worship services. With an upturn in county COVID cases, we recommend masks even for those who are vaccinated.
We are glad to share our worship with you. Click on “Contact Us” above to find out more about our faith family and what we believe.
Jeremiah 1:4-10 | Psalm 71:1-6
1 Corinthians 13:1-13 | Luke 4:21-30
Jesus goes to his hometown. He came home after a long absence. Remember, he now lives in Capernaum in Galilee to the north. He has now returned to Nazareth where he grew up. He has been gone for a while. And, we are told, as was his habit, he goes to the synagogue. He is handed to scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He reads it. Then, he preaches on Isaiah’s text in the synagogue. Today’s gospel lesson is actually the second half of last week’s gospel lesson. The first half sounded great. This week’s half is not so good. The people are impressed, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son!” “We watched him grow up.” And the answer is, no. It is God’s Son. And ironically, as God’s Son, he watched you grow up. Think about that one for a minute! He watches us too.
He then starts to tell them some things about God that they don’t want to hear, and don’t want to believe. Namely, that God loves and cares for people regardless of whether they are Jewish or not – the Gentiles too. And, he even gives them a couple of examples. What is the response? This is outrageous! The love and adoration turn to anger, so much so that the people drive him to the cliff to throw him off and stone him. The text just says that they drive him to a high precipice. The first step in the punishment of stoning was you cast them off the highest precipice in the area. Jesus is rejected in his own hometown. To us, this shouldn’t be a surprise during the Season of Christmas, several times we heard the words from John’s Gospel, in the First Chapter, “He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him.” His own people did not accept him.
Not too long ago, I was rereading Karl Barth’s lectures on the Apostles’ Creed. It is an amazing study on the Creed. For those of you who don’t know the name, Karl Barth has been called the greatest theologian in the last 500 years, translation, since Luther (whom he quotes very often). On the clause, “He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried” Barth brought up on interesting point, actually, a sublime point. One I hadn’t even considered before. He wrote, “Jesus’ whole life was a life of suffering.” We tend to think only of Jesus’ suffering during Holy Week, culminating on the cross. But Barth rightly points out that Jesus suffered his whole lifetime because he is so often rejected by those whom he came to save, by the priests, elders, Pharisees and scribes of course, by his followers often, at the end by the disciples, even it would appear at times in the Gospel writings by his own family. He is rejected by those he comes to save. Many people can probably identify with that phenomenon. But he is the Author of Creation Himself! The very Son of God!
Also, and here is an irony in the text today, stoning was the penalty for uttering blasphemy – or as the people of Nazareth would have understood it, “this isn’t what our God wants!” There’s the rub. Jesus Christ, very God from eternity, is telling them directly what God wants. They reject it. There is what God wants. And then there is what we want God to want. For some reason, they are often not the same. People develop their own preconceived notions about God. We forget that we, as mortals, cannot possibly conceive of God, let alone understand the mind of God. Worse yet, we get upset when God doesn’t do what we want, or no longer fits into the little pigeonhole we have tended to make for God to fit into. That is another definition of sin. Namely, we want to limit God. Look again at the prophets, God’s messengers, most of them met untimely and messy deaths. Jeremiah in the OT lesson today is a good lesson. He dies as a slave in Egypt, where he was sold by the king’s advisors as the Kingdom of Juday is being conquered. People didn’t want to hear the message.
So, God sent his son, not Joseph’s, to try to get things straight. So that we, even with our limitations may more clearly behold the face of God. What do we see in Jesus? We see the Word of God, made flesh. We see God’s love and compassion. We see the example of obedience, even obedience unto death on the cross. All for us: all of us. Christ comes for the sake of the whole world. God comes to us to save us from our sins, and from our sinful selves. God comes to redeem us, out of His great love for us. And God doesn’t want to take no for an answer. Even in the midst of human rejection and divine suffering for our sake. God’s “Yes” for us is always there, waiting for us to turn to Him. As St. Paul tells us this morning, “God’s love never ends.”