Saturday 29 January 2022

Prayers January 30th 2022, Epiphany 4,

Rise within us like the star 

And make us restless

Till we journey on

To seek our peace in you

Song ”I heard the voice of Jesus say”

Confession- a time of silence and reflection


The Lords Prayer in our own language


Reflection on Luke 4:21-30


Three gospels in the New Testament offer similar portraits of the life of Jesus; Luke is the third of them. Its author, traditionally Luke the physician who accompanied Paul on some of his missionary journeys, draws on three sources: Mark (via Matthew), a collection of sayings (known as Q for Quelle, German for source) and his own source. It is a gospel that emphasizes God's love for the poor, the disadvantaged, minorities, outcasts, sinners and lepers. Women play a more prominent part than in the other gospels. Luke never uses Semitic words; this is one argument for thinking that he wrote primarily for Gentiles.  


Last week we had the first part of Jesus’ appearance before his home synagogue (4:14-21). Now we read of the response. We recall that Luke is making this the all important introductory scene for the ministry to follow. Already he has included in it Jesus’ statement about his call and mission. Now he invites us to reflect on what is about to happen. 


The initial response to Jesus is awe (4:22). The people were ‘amazed at the words of compassion’. By the end of verse 22 the initially positive response is becoming something else: ‘Isn’t this Joseph’s son?’. Jesus is the boy from down the road. Parochialism.


Jesus had been spreading his wings in Capernaum. Now he is back home. Mark states it baldly,with just a couple of minor exceptions he was not able to do any miracles in his local community (6:5). Jesus himself second-guesses what they are thinking: why won’t he do for them the kind of miracles he did for Capernaum? 


Prophets are not accepted in their homeland (4:24)


There were many widows in need in Israel, but Elijah was sent to the widow in Zarephath in Sidon, foreign territory, and Elisha brought a cure to none of the lepers except Naaman, the Syrian. In the gospel Jesus shows how, after initial positive responses, the crowds turned against Jesus because he went outside of the respected in Israel and reached out to the sinners, toll collectors and outcasts. Luke is arguing that his outreach incited anger and hatred and led to Jesus’ execution, prefigured here by the attempt to stone him (the common method of throwing people over a precipice and then dropping large rocks on them). 


People become possessive about truth and knowledge. When their knowledge power is threatened, they often become aggressive. This can include refusal to face new truth. Communities reject people of a different race, a different culture, different ideas and protect their own, fearful of change. 


At one level Luke’s message is simple and uncontroversial: if you join Jesus in living a life of compassion that is inclusive and without prejudice against the despised and feared, you will be living the life of the Spirit but you will be courting danger. The gospel is about challenging dehumanizing categories. There is a great deal of angry reaction today in my country to outsiders.Is that Christian?

Jesus’s message is about an inclusive mission. If you engage in living a life of compassion that is inclusive and without prejudice against the despised and feared, you will be following Jesus.  

All people have value. 


So if the Spirit of the Lord is upon us, how does it show itself?

Are we good news for the poor?

Do we release people who are captives in whatever way?

Are we a light to the blind, both physically and spiritually. 


They threw him out of the synagogue! Because he was insulting them and their way of life, which was about looking after themselves. Jesus was an outsider because of education and class. Not trained at the theological college, not middle class.


We are encouraged to see and think differently, to make a difference, to be the raindrop that makes the pool and the stream. And people might object! 

Our prayers for our world

Song "The Spirit lives to set us free ".

When the star in the sky has gone

And the wise men have gone back to their homes

The real work of Christmas begins

To find the lost, heal the broken, feed the hungry and release the prisoner




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