Jesus’ Homecoming, Part 2

faith on the edgeIt is that moment.

Jesus continued to sit in his hometown synagogue on the Sabbath while those in the crowded worship space gazed at him. He’d finished reading Isaiah, but the hopeful words echo, if not in the room, then certainly in their hearts.

No one whispered. Not a cough. Several held their breath. All eyes remained wide open.

The synagogue thrummed with expectation.

“Today,” Jesus said, “this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

So far, the scripture he read has been safe. Isaiah’s call for the release of the captives and sight to the blind resonated with Jesus’ neighbors. As Jews with long memories, they had a history of captivity. Their ancestors wept by the waters of Babylon. As Jews of today, Rome’s empire oppressed them. They seethed about taxes and cowered when a Roman sword was drawn. But some day they’d be free. On some tomorrow all would clearly see, literally and figuratively. Not now, but soon.

But Jesus had more to say. His next words didn’t inspire once-upon-a-time dreams or somewhere-over-the-rainbow longings, but confronted the pettiness and arrogance of every soul in the stuffy synagogue. Continue reading →

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Jesus’ Homecoming, Part 1

Reading the TorahIt is that moment.

Jesus rises, standing in a synagogue on the Sabbath. His fellow Jews gaze at him as he clears his throat. He reads from Isaiah.

The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him . . . (Luke 4:20)

This is not just any synagogue in the backwaters of the Roman Empire, for it is the place of worship in Jesus’ hometown. Where he had been brought up, the Gospel of Luke declared. He is in a familiar room, once seen through the eager or bored eyes of youth, once a place where his father was protectively near him, once a place where—like all children—he might vanish behind an adult’s broad back or say something insightful and have everyone focus their attention on him. This was home. These were friends.

He is Joseph and Mary’s kid.

In a village, wouldn’t everyone have a memory? Was Jesus recalled as the child with the quick wit, or the far-away look, or the sad eyes, or maybe an infectious laugh? A hundred distinctive voices could say, I remember when: Jesus ran home, chased by an angry hive of bees or when he stayed by Joseph’s side and helped his old man finish a carpentry project or was the one who found that lost lamb after it wandered from the flock. They would remember. He was one of theirs. All of them in the sweltering, stark place of worship had yelled at, nodded to, chatted with, scolded, praised and greeted the boy Jesus. Continue reading →

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

And Yet I Turned

foggy imageWhile walking my dog not long after the official dawn, we didn’t cast any shadows. In Fresno, in the center of California, at the beginnings of January, a slurry of gray fog hugged the gray asphalt path on the gray day.

Cold.

Dreary.

Still.

A young man approached us, bundled in a jacket, moving quickly. On this early Sunday, he was the first person I’d seen since leaving home fifteen minutes before. As he spied my dog—off leash and happily trotting ahead of me—he sidestepped, and then hopped over the low bushes that created a border between the narrow path and the wide suburban street. He continued heading towards us. Continue reading →

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather