Scripture: Luke 4:16
16 When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
20 And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” 22 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?”
Have you ever seen the fall foliage in picture? Have you ever driven along the highway and seen the burst of beautiful colors that just takes your breath away? And, although we see it year after year it never fails to be beautiful.
Have you ever gone walking in the woods during that time? Still beautiful right? But it loses some of the majesty and grandeur. In the woods we cannot see the treetops as much.
Have you ever looked closely at those individual trees with their rough bark, probably broken branches, or even a dead limb and leaves?
Yet even though we see the flaws up close the forest is no less beautiful. Each tree is a part of the grand scheme of the foliage but when we get up close, we miss the awe!
God sees you from a distance.
God sees us and the ways we are so delightfully beautiful, and the possibilities for our greatness are in focus. Yet, through Jesus’ coming and living among humanity it tells us that God understands our everyday challenges. Jesus understands that even as we are so uniquely beautiful from a distance we feel pain, and get angry, and are hateful and are broken, and get depressed, and feel like we are not enough, and things don’t work out the way we expected or planned.
In the scripture that was read, Jesus went home where they knew him. First, they heard what he was doing from a distance in the regions around Galilee. They also saw and heard him preaching in the temple and were impressed by him. They must have felt great pride that one of their hometown boys was making it big. It must have been what it felt like to see other Black people, or Haitians get recognized or achieve great things like Kamala Harris, or Barack Obama or the artist Jean Basquiat, or Wyclef Jean. When Jesus came home, he was one of them walking on the same road, eating the same food. He was Joseph’s son, the carpenter, that kid from down the street. The one who ran around with the local boys or the teen who did that thing that normal teens did.
Familiarity breeds contempt
The people could not forget what they knew about Jesus. Their knowledge prevented them from seeing who he had become instead of who he once was. There are people who cannot allow us to become who we are being called to be in this community or in the world because they are stuck on who we were. Sometimes we remember who we have been and cannot seem to let go of who we have been while God is calling us to be so much more. We try to hide from the people in our community, from ourselves and sometimes we even try to hide from God. But like the words of the song, God is watching us from a distance and seeing us as we truly are, beautifully and wondrously, a part of God’s creation.