Prophets Among Us

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Luke 4:21-30

Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” He said to them, “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.’” And he 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. They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.

On Superbowl Sunday it is worth noting that John and Jim Harbaugh are well known as brothers leading opposing teams in the big game.
Few people, however, know of Jay Harbaugh, who is an intern for the Baltimore Ravens, his uncle John’s team.
In any case, once the Superbowl is over, there will be a difficult family dynamic, with some celebrating, while others deal with loss of the NFL championship.

Family and hometown dynamics are always tricky. Those who have known us most of our lives accept us and love us. They can also be more ready to remind us of our thoughts than to see our gifts, or hear hard truths from us.

This was Jesus’ dilemma. He had returned home after performing miracles in other towns and proclaiming good news, but now people wanted him to show them what he could do. After all, wasn’t this the son of Joseph, the carpenter? But Jesus refused to perform miracles on demand. Instead he quoted Isaiah and said that he had come to give good news for those who needed it, proclaim release to the captives, give sight to the blind and freedom to the oppressed.

His ministry was one not for his hometown, for those who sought comfort from one of their own, but for those who needed a prophetic word, love given in difficult places and hope offered inm times of despair.

Rather than find a thesis statement in this scripture, we may find ourselves struggling with questions. Among the other questions you may find yourself wrestling with, live in tension with these three for the days and week ahead:

1. In what ways is God calling me to speak a prophetic word to those who need to hear about love, freedom, hope and good news?

2. Where are there people who are speaking prophetic messages around me that challenge my own privilege and comfort, but I discredit them because they are too familiar?

3. How is the church being called to offer a prophetic word to the world around us?  The mission of the United Methodist Church is “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” But, how can we join our voices together to actually make a difference and transform even some small part of the world around us?

Journeying with these tough questions is a part of the Christian journey and is a part of following Jesus, who came to offer freedom, hope, grace and love to all who are in need.

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Categories: Faith

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