This Week

Water is Thicker than Blood

FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 71:1-6

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

Luke 4:21-30

Prayer of the Day: Almighty and ever-living God, increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and love; and that we may obtain what you promise, make us love what you command, through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

“But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up for 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.” Luke 4:25-27.

It is not clear exactly when the crowd at Jesus’ synagogue went sour on Jesus. But somehow, they went from amazement “at the gracious words that came from his mouth” to wanting to stone him to death. Some commentators suggest retranslating “amazement” as “indignation” and “gracious” as “arrogant.” Personally, I think that is a stretch. But be that as it may, it is obvious that the synagogue audience was further inflamed by Jesus’ observation that God’s favor is frequently poured out upon those considered well outside the scope of God’s covenant promises. That goes against our natural human tendency to identify God with “us,” with “our people” and with “our country.”

I learned first hand just how deep this tribalizing, racializing, nationalizing of God runs when I placed the above passage from Leviticus on our church sign. I did that in early 2017, just after the Trump anti-Muslim ban went into effect wreaking havoc to the great satisfaction to his supporters. Read more