Greetings St. John’s Lutheran Church!
Jesus 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. –Luke 4:24-28
We continue to walk through the Season After Epiphany in which the scripture readings from the gospel cast light on who Jesus is while the lessons from 1 Corinthians cast light on who we are as the church, as followers of Jesus.
How does who Jesus is, inform who we are as a community?
Luke, the gospel that will be featured in Sunday readings for the next year, highlights how Jesus’ ministry reaches out and lifts up those typically excluded from or shamed by mainstream society.
Here, Jesus recalls how the outsider, the foreigner has been favored by great prophets of the past. A foreign widow is given food by Elijah in the midst of a widespread drought and famine, and a foreign king is healed of leprosy by Elisha. All this while God’s own people also suffered from the same afflictions.
Do you notice how the crowd reacts to Jesus’ observations? They are filled with rage. The story goes on to describe how they attempt to kill Jesus by throwing him off a cliff – and these are friends and family who know Jesus from his childhood!
How easy it is to react with anger when outsiders, foreigners, immigrants, migrants, and refugees receive resources while citizens suffer from the same financial insecurity and hunger. Shouldn’t we focus our attention on the people already living in our country and in our communities?
It is questions like this that can lead us down a road where we believe that separating ourselves from the outside world is the answer, or that shutting out migrants fleeing danger and hopeless futures is the answer.
Yet Jesus offers a different perspective, and we, as his followers, do well to consider what this means for how we live our lives. How are we, the church, called to love those who are not U.S. citizens and need help? Where is God leading us in an increasingly global world?
I look forward to considering these and other tough questions during worship this next month.
In Christ, Pastor Kat