Things soon took a turn and got downright nasty there in Nazareth on that first day of Jesus' ministry. The people were expectant and excited about the possibilities of grace, but then suddenly that grace became distasteful when it led them in ways that they did not anticipate.
God's grace often shows up in places we don't expect, or it leads us in directions we would rather not go.
Grace is not for the faint of heart or ones who do not like surprises. It invites us to make connections with people whom we would rather like to forget. God's mercy is not captive to our desires or to our limits. If we wish to follow this Jesus, the invitation is always to be ready for surprises. One of the risks of following Jesus is to know that we will not be in control. It takes the transforming power of God's grace to make that happen. It is called salvation or wholeness. And it resides in the promise of God that "to you has been born" precisely such a savior, who is Christ the Lord.
God of mercy, help us to live with the surprises of your grace. Calm our fears of the unknown and teach us to follow in the ways of your mercy which you have in store for all people in the gift of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Luke 4:21-30 (NRSV)
21 Then he began to say to them, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."
22 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?"
23 He 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.'"
24 And he said, "Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet's hometown.
25 "But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land;
26 "yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon.
27" There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian."
28 When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage.
29 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.
30 But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.