3 Feb. Luke 4:21-30 On Being a Just Community
Jesus’ prophetic ministry challenged his community. In a community that believed so strongly in a God that was so far “above the fray,” that His name could not be pronounced, words that announced that the scripture had been fulfilled in their hearing had to have been presumptuous. In a community used to following a rhythm of prayer and worship that was constant, predictable and respectful of tradition, Jesus’ words had to have shaken their sure foundation. And in a community that knew it was the chosen people of God, Jesus’ words about God sending prophets of Israel to minister to Gentiles had to be incendiary. In short, Jesus threatened what Harold Garfinkle would describe some 2000 years later as “a moral order defined by the rule-governed activities of everyday life.” According to Garfinkle, folks will do what it takes to restore their sense of moral order -- justice is usually not part of that restoration.
Today’s gospel reminds us that striving for justice is not only “out there,” but also “in here” in the midst of our own community. How are we doing here at St. Andrew’s? Are we truly a Just place to be? Do we have any circled wagons within which we are defending our truth against all comers? Are we being intentional about creating room for others’ experience or input? Are we creating a community in which people know one another well and who tell one another the truth in love? How are we doing at hanging our certainty at the door and choosing to engage the questions? How are we doing at treating each other as colleagues who disagree rather than as adversaries? How are we doing at holding up our own assumptions for critical examination? And most importantly, what are we teaching our community to do with those who don't agree with us? Jesus recognized the difficulty of being a prophet in the community in which he was raised. We too need to be careful who we lead to the cliff only to have them slip away.