January 22, 2007

Looking Forward to January 28, 2007 -- 4th Sunday After Epiphany

The Scripture Readings this Sunday are:
  • From the Jewish Scriptures: Jeremiah 1:4-10
  • Psalm 71:1-6 (VU p.789 Part 1)
  • From the Gospel: Luke 4:14-30

The Hymns are:

  • #410 This Day God Gives Me
  • The Spirit of the Lord is Upon Me (on insert)
  • #82 A Light is Gleaming
  • #424 May the God of Hope Go With Us

The Sermon title is Prophets Without Honour

Early Thoughts:One of the toughest challenges about being the people of God is the call to be prophetic. It is easy to be priestly, to have as main concern the rituals around worship. It is even easy much of the time to be pastoral, to care for the people with whom we live and serve. But to be prophetic, to speak truths people don't want to hear, to overturn the comfortable lives we live, now that is risky. And so it is hard to do.

Jesus goes home. There he is invited to read from the Scripture (the scroll of Isaiah as it happens). After he reads he gives a very short sermon to the people who were gathered there. And then things hit a snag. The crowd runs him out of town on a rail (the text talks about throwing him off a cliff but it is uncertain there would be a cliff in the area of Nazareth).

Jeremiah hears the call to be God's prophet at a young age. In fact that is the basis of his argument against accepting the call -- I am too young. Once he answers it Jeremiah will become known as a prophet of woe. He is pushed to do strange things as he tries to convince the people of Jerusalem that their doom is at hand. He is not well-liked for saying what people do not want to hear.

Jesus talks about prophets not having honour in their hometown/homeland. Sometimes this might be because of the "I knew you when..." syndrome. It can be hard to be heard seriously by your surrogate parents. Sometimes it is because in ones home the prophet knows how to make the message strike with the killing accuracy and sharpness of a well-aimed arrow. The truth hurts sometimes and we often find it easier to strike out against the messenger than face the hard truth.

But the problem is that the church is not just called to be priestly and pastoral. We can't just do the rituals "right" and care for each other. We are also called to be prophetic voices in the world around us. We need to find a way to name and acknowledge the hard truths that need to be spoken. We need to move past the fear that people will get upset, or leave, or stop giving money. How do we do that? I really have little idea, but on Sunday we can explore it a little more. Hope to see you there!

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