Saturday Dec. 21
Scripture: Luke 4:22-30
When Jesus preached in his hometown of Nazareth for the first time, the people initially praised his wisdom. But as he began to further articulate his beliefs, they grew enraged. In fact, they reacted so negatively when he told them the good news of God’s kingdom was for Gentiles as well as Jews that they tried to kill him. Thankfully, he used his super Jesus powersto walk right through their midst unharmed and left town.
This Christmas some of us will go to family gatherings in our hometowns where initially we will be received joyfully. But we can already anticipate that after the warm greetings are over, we’ll eventually her grumbling from our families: “Why do you wear those clothes? Why’d you choose that job? Why are dating him/her? Why do you parent like that? How can you think that way about politics?”
In these moments, it’s important to remember why Jesus went back to his hometown. From his own words (“No prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown” – Luke 4:24 NRSV), it’s apparent Jesus knew well that he would most likely be rejected by the people of Nazareth. Yet, he went there anyway. Why would he do such a thing? I can think of only one good reason: he loved them. He loved them too much to turn his back on them even though they would reject him and attempt to harm him.
This year, if you walk into a family gathering where people are likely to reject you and say harmful things to you, it may be a good time to ask use the super Jesus powers the Holy Spirit gives you walk right through the midst of hurtful words and let those words roll off you like water off a duck’s back rather than allowing them to get under your skin. Focus not on how others are being unkind to you, but rather on how you can be kind to them. Then when the gathering is over to go on your way secure in the knowledge that, like Jesus, you shared your love for those closest to you whether they were ready to receive it or not.
Prayer: Jesus of Nazareth, this Christmas teach me to repay evil with good, hate with love, prejudice with compassion, jealousy with acceptance, and carelessness with kindness. I know I will need the super Jesus powers only your Holy Spirit can provide to do so. This is my heart’s desire because I want to love others as you love me. Amen.