Pastor Scott Hannon
St. John Lutheran Church Amherst, NY
There’s a pretty cool story in scripture where Jesus returns to his hometown and leads worship in the local synagogue. He reads from the scroll of the Prophet Isaiah. He preaches a short sermon indicating that he is the promised servant Isaiah spoke about. The people are amazed and astonished. The Bible says, “The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.” (Luke 4:20)
But then things change.
Jesus tells them he won’t perform the cute tricks they want him to. Moreover, he transitions into a discourse that informs the religious Jews gathered in that place for worship that God’s grace and action were not just reserved for them. Using scripture he showed them how God’s loving action is for all.
So they kick him out. (Actually, they drive him out and try to kill him.)
I wonder how many of our churches Jesus would get kicked out of today.
When Jesus doesn’t do the cute tricks we want him to… when the healing we crave, the sign we desire, or the power we so desperately want does not come quickly or at all, will we be the ones who drive Jesus out?
When Jesus rightly informs us that we aren’t the only ones God deems worthy of grace and love, how will we respond? When we discover that God’s grace is bigger than us – bigger than our churches – bigger than our denominations – even bigger than Christianity itself – will we be the ones who toss Jesus to the curb?
The equivalent of Jesus telling that first century Jewish audience that Gentiles would also be the recipients of God’s loving action, is Jesus today announcing that there is grace outside of the church… maybe even grace for non-believers, grace for atheists, grace for Hindus, and grace for Muslims. If Jesus were to announce that radical grace in your church (which he will on 1.31 if you use the Revised Common Lectionary), would he be thrown out?
This story from scripture reminds us that God cannot be put in a box. It informs us that God is bigger than us – that God is God for more people than just us. And we are invited, unlike that synagogue audience, not to throw Jesus out, but to leave our places of comfort with Jesus that we might begin to understand just how BIG God’s love really is.
May each of our congregation’s be places where ALL means ALL –
Where EVERYONE is welcome –
And where Jesus can speak truth to power
Without fear of being thrown out.
In the Way,
For more inspiration and insights from Pastor Scott’s past columns, please visit www.jamestowngazette.com and click on the Faith Matters page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.