Who would have thought that Joseph’s boy would grow up to be a prophet? That’s what they were asking in Nazareth that day. Who would have thought?

But there are some issues under the surface. The congregation wants Jesus to heal someone in Nazareth, just as they heard he had done in Capernaum. Maybe they want to see proof for themselves. Maybe they want the benefits of Jesus’ healing for the people of their town. Or maybe the people of Nazareth just want bragging rights over their neighboring towns. What’s going on here?

Then Jesus talks about a prophet not being accepted in his hometown. Where did this come from? Why is it important? He reminds them that Elijah was sent to the widow in a pagan community during the drought, even though there were many widows in Israel. And he says that Elisha healed a pagan (and enemy) from leprosy when there were plenty of people with leprosy in Israel he could have healed. Why outsiders? Why not heal among the chosen people?

The old issue of “us” and “them” rears its ugly head. Who is included? Who is excluded? Who decides? How do you know? The morning paper tells me a lot about who is and who is not, but not much about why. Jesus is saying here that God has a different understanding about who is included. God’s grace, he says, is not just for a select few but for all people. That’s why Elijah and Elisha went outside the chosen people. Faithful ministry always looks for the outsider, the neglected, the oppressed.

It’s easy to be angry at people who are exclusive, who think their way is the only way. We too often feel superior to those people; after all, we’re Christians. But what if we are as exclusive as those we look down on? Would we be among those who would try to kill Jesus because he said God’s grace is for all?

God, I want to be open to your call, even when it makes me uncomfortable. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Luke 4:21-30

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Lectionary Week
January 24–30, 2022
Scripture Overview

The readings from the Hebrew scriptures share a common theme of calling. Jeremiah is called at a young age to be a prophet. God knew and set apart Jeremiah even in the womb. The psalmist also expresses confidence in God’s call, because God knew him even before he was born. In the same way, God knows each one of us and has a plan for our lives that is not an afterthought. In this First Corinthians passage (often read at weddings), Paul speaks of love. But this love is not infatuation and is not based on emotion. It is intentional, strong, gritty, and unselfish. In Luke we see that many struggle with the fact that Jesus’ calling is also to serve the marginalized. Jesus reveals that God has a missional heart.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

Read Jeremiah 1:4-10. What is God calling you to do? How does your passion intersect with the world’s needs?
Read Psalm 71:1-6. God promises not to make our lives easy or perfectly safe but to be with us when we face challenges. In a world that seems increasingly violent, how do you find assurance of God’s continuous presence?
Read 1 Corinthians 13. God calls us to a vocation of love. How can you be more loving in your daily work or activities?
Read Luke 4:21-30. How do you see God’s call in those you know best? How can you look to minister to the outsider and the oppressed?

Respond by posting a prayer.

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