When they heard [Jesus’ sermon], all in the synagogue were filled with rage. They got up, drove Jesus 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. – Luke 4:28-29 (NRSV)
Imagine a new, young, preacher returning to her home church for the first time since she left for seminary. She preaches passionately about God’s boundless love.
The congregation is bursting with pride. “Look at our girl up there. I remember when she was just a baby,” one person coos. “I had her in my Sunday school class,” says another. “So smart!”
But then homegirl says, “Because we are all citizens of God’s kin-dom, because nationalism is contrary to God’s heart, we should remove the American flag from this sanctuary!” They kick her out so fast her head spins.
That’s what’s happened when Jesus went home to Nazareth. Like the hypothetical preacher above, Jesus preached that God’s mercy extends to everyone, regardless of national identity. Jesus had zero patience for the idolatry of nationalism. For that, the congregation tried to pitch him off a cliff.
It’s a hard truth, for any new preacher, to discover that people are often more interested in worshipping us than God. We like the idea of inclusivity until it erases our borders, our standards, our talismans, even the walls of our own homes. Fortunately for us, when we tell God to keep out, She’s still all in.
Persistent One, thank you for finding an open window when we show you the door.