February 11, 2018: It Takes Faith to Speak Truth

Posted on : Feb 8th, 2018 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

I’ve preached a few “prophetic” sermons in my day, but fortunately, unlike Jesus, I have never been “run out town!”  In preaching classes in Seminary, the story about Jesus’ invitation to preach in his home synagogue is often used as model of “how not to preach.”  So what is up here?

In this Sunday’s Gospel story, Jesus headed back to his home town of Nazareth.  He went to the synagogue on the sabbath, as was his tradition, and was asked to read the passage for the day. That passage happened to be Isaiah 61:

“The Spirit of God is upon me,
because God has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
Go has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of God’s favor.”

It was then the tradition that a Rabbi, after reading the text, would teach or preach about what the text meant.

Jesus started out fine, offering a lovely interpretation of the text, but then he started speaking truth to power.  The response to this “hometown kid” who was now a Rabbi quickly changed from praise to condemnation.  The worshippers in the synagogue became so enraged, “they got up, forced him out of the town, and led him to the edge of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the edge of the cliff.”

It takes faith to speak truth. Faith in yourself and faith in God.  In the last weeks we have heard from an ever-increasing number of women who are finally telling the truth about their being sexually abused by powerful men.  More than 165 girls from the US Gymnastics team have come out and told their stories about how the team physician sexually abused them.  It took tremendous faith, courage and strength for the girls to share their truth.

In the past weeks we have focused on three aspects of having faith in our “It Takes Faith” series.

The first was about having faith in God.  God’s timetable and ours are not always in sync.  The 10th time was the charm for good old Moses, but then the rest of his life was a life-long journey of learning to trust and have faith in God.   The second was about having the faith to know when your religion is wrong.  Religious leaders and traditions often abuse truth in order to maintain power over others.  It takes faith to know when your religion is wrong.  The third aspect about faith was having faith in yourself.  Having faith in yourself leads to having a deeper faith in God.  This Sunday, we conclude this series focusing on having enough faith in yourself and in God to speak Truth.

Isn’t it amazing that the ones who are speaking their Truth today are not the powerful, but rather those who have been abused.  I believe there is a strong similarity between those who are speaking their Truth now, and what Jesus proclaimed in his now famous/infamous sermon that enraged the people of his own home synagogue and got him thrown out of his own hometown.  More on Sunday.

Blessings,

Dan

~ This Sunday’s Scripture ~

Luke 4:16-37

When Jesus 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, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:

“The Spirit of God is upon me,
    because God has anointed me
        to bring good news to the poor.
Go has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
    and recovery of sight to the blind,
        to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of God’s favor.”

And Jesus rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” 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?”

Jesus said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Doctor, cure yourself!’ And you will say, ‘Do here also in your hometown the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.’” And he said, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown. But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when there was no rain 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.” When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. But Jesus passed through the midst of them and went on his way.

He went down to Capernaum, a city in Galilee, and was teaching them on the sabbath. They were astounded at his teaching, because he spoke with authority. In the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, “Let us alone! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” When the demon had thrown him down before them, he came out of him without having done him any harm. They were all amazed and kept saying to one another, “What kind of utterance is this? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and out they come!” And a report about him began to reach every place in the region.

© New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

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