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Leaving Home

Date:2/3/19

Series: Epiphany

Category: 2019 Sermons

Passage: Luke 4:21-30

Speaker: Nicole Trotter

Home away from home
Home is where the heart is
Home by another way
home again home again

Home is, I think we can all agree more than a house It’s a place we return to again and again for security, for reassurance, for rest, for comfort.

And yet, stay in it for too long, in that cocoon of comfort and we get so comfortable we may not leave. There are those who cannot leave because of physical limitations, but they are exempt from this line of thinking. Comfort zones are just that. They have permitters, zoning, lines drawn in the sand, ad we know this because when we begin to leave our comfort zones, we have tells, our heart rat may increase, we may begin to feel defensive, or even fearful, so we retreat back into where we feel safe. Do that for long enough, and the body will begin to show signs of atrophy, the mind will show signs of stagnation, the spirt will show its wear and tear through intolerance of what is new, what is different, what is changing.

Things of beauty change and grow. Look at the natural world, a flower, a the moon…life changes constantly because God is a God of growth and exploration. God never stops creating…And we, simply put, are an integral part of God’s creation.

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This morning’s scripture is a continuation of last weeks. Last week, Jesus has returned to his hometown. All was going well. He reads from Isaiah. A passage they would have heard a thousand times. Interestingly though, he leaves out the verses that lay calm to vengeance on enemies. Luke doesn't tell us that and Luke doesn’t mention what the reaction of the listeners would have been to that. But we can do our best to imagine. There were people then just as there are today, who cannot imagine justice without punishment and revenge of those who were against them. 

But this isn’t what turns the crowd around. In fact, at this point, all are sitting back enjoying, amazed at his maturity and wisdom, Hey that’s Joseph’s kid, isn’t it? Community was close. He’s one of us and he’s making us all proud. His picture will surely appear in the IJ, it’ll mention one of the local high schools, he’ll go on to do big things but he’ll be representing our home town, so we’ll clip the photo, hang it up on a refrigerator and take pride for all to see. It reminds me tat my mother said that in the Bronx growing u, they would refer to Jesus as “the kid.” You’d walk into a Catholic church, see Mary on the right, Joseph on the left, and the kid front and center.

But this is here the scripture takes a turn. Jesus is the one who turns this around. All the crowd did was say, hey kid we’re proud to call you one of our own. 

But Jesus predicts to them what they will say to him-

Verse 23- “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Doctor, cure yourself!’ And you will say, ‘Do here also in your hometown the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.’” 24And he said, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown.  

Cure thyself, meaning do for us what you’ve done for others. Surely we should matter more, we raised you, we looked out for you, I brought casseroles to your mother when she was sick. 

Kahil Gibran said it so well-

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

It would have been nice if Jesus could have used those words, but instead, Jesus is a rather harsh-No prophet is truly welcomed at home band then drives his point home by reminding them with specific examples. 

Of all the windows, many of whom were in Israel, during a great famine, the prophet Elijah was sent by God to none of them, except to a widow in Sidon. And of all the lepers that God could have sent Elisha to, he cleansed the Syrian. 

And that’s where it gets ugly. Jesus is professing that what he knows to be true of his own people. That they are trying to claim him for himself, but God is bigger than any claim of theirs.  God is the God who crosses borders into foreign lands to heal. God doesn't stay inside any comfort zone because God knows no zones.

As David Lose said so well, “ Whenever you or I draw a line around who's in and who's out, we will find Jesus on the other side.”

Christ calls for us to leave our comfort zone and enter into a relationship with that person, those people. Whoever they are for us. entering into relationship doesn't mean you have to have them over to dinner, but it might mean that. But first, it means leaving our comfort zone of everything familiar to you, of everything you’ve known as home, even what you’ve known to be what you call you. Jesus calls us to travel into a foreign land that asks you to begin to imagine what it means to be the other, in all their circumstance, the leper and the widow suffer the same no matter where they live, whether on our land or somewhere else. When we read of Christians claiming this nation as a christian nation, as though it entitle us to something, this is the passage you can point to as a reminder that God is the God of very nation. God is in every corner of this world and as stewards of this planet, as caretakers and as one body, we are called to care for our brothers and sisters here at home and abroad, next door, across oceans, across the street, across the dinner table with the Uncle no one likes. Or at a wellness dinner when asked to sit in a circle and pray with people who seem foreign to us. Pushing through discomfort, leaning into it, is where growth of compassion, of empathy, of love is birthed.

When we leave home, leave our comfort zone we grow along side inextricably, with a God who is always asking us to realize the fullest expression of who we can become with Christ. A God who is the growth process, the divine artist, ever creating us into new life. That new life we are born into again and again, that new piece of you in Christ is called to service, through compassion and love. To serve is to be in communion with one another through Christ, who knows no boundaries, no foreign lands, because all land, all places are home with God.

~~~~~~~~~~~

The crowd is so upset with Jesus, they try to throw him off a cliff. When I first read that I wrote it off as some rhetorical device of Luke’s to make a point. They got really angry. But Luke didn’t stop there. Luke made it violent. That would never happen, I thought.

And then I remembered scenes from around the world and our own country in the last few years. Scenes of violence, people claiming white supremacy, citing KKK rhetoric, as though we’ve learned nothing. I thought of bombs and gunmen in synagogues as though nothing was learned from the holocaust.

Violence is not a rhetorical device used by Gospel writers. It’s a reflection of what happens hen ideologies become extreme in their claim on God as belonging only to them. 

Extremism is born somewhere. It begins at home, there in the quiet places of the heart that says, they are not one of me, not my kind. Why would God travel to other lands to heal when we have our own suffering right here? 

Jesus tells us why. God is bigger than anyone of us, bigger than any town, than any region, and any country, any zone. This is Luke’s gospel, often referred to as the social justice gospel because of Jesus’s love for the outsider, the one who takes us out of our comfort zone and asks us to leave the comfort of home and follow a God who takes us on the road, into the foreign lands of our hearts, where all people are one with Christ Jesus.

If extremism is born there, than so is healing. Jesus said the scripture is fulfilled in your hearing. As Christ followers, we are called to follow Him in love for him and for others. We are called to love. Called to serve in love for the neighbor, the one who has a fence around their house. We are called to open the gate into boundless love. 

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 

Amen.