He left that place and came to his home town, and his disciples followed him. On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honour, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief.
Then he went about among the villages teaching. He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.
Coming home is usually a mixed blessing. There is the consolation of familiar faces, nostalgic dishes, and all those triggers for our memories of days that have wrinkled into time.
‘So what are you doing?‘, friends ask when we meet them in the old store or restaurant. For Jesus it was easy to answer, ‘Come to Synagogue on the Sabbath and see.’
There he was, the local boy come home with wisdom beyond his years and the temerity to teach new insights and understandings. He should have realised that the people who had stayed in backwater Nazareth were there because they didn’t like new, nor different, nor anything but the same as last week.
Meat, rice and two veg.
He offended them with his novelty and the nous to expose their stuckness. They didn’t care for either.
It seems that the reaction was reciprocal. Jesus as amazed at them as they were at him.
So he sent his disciples elsewhere.
Don’t go in power and pretense, rather be with people in vulnerable simplicity. No fancy clothes, weapons, nor support teams. In fact nothing logistical at all. Not a church growth strategy nor mission statement in sight.
A simple instruction. Remain with the receptive and quit on the contentious.
Proclaim radical change to everyone.
They did, and the kingdom grew and grew.
I have heard it said of Jesus in Nazareth that, “Familiarity breeds contempt”. I am not so sure. If I look at the modern church it seems that familiarity breeds content.
I wonder if we can recapture the heart winning, soul changing simplicity those early apostles exhibited.
God knows it will be unfamiliar and may just be the packaging our proclamation needs.
A friend recently alerted me to a wonderful set of principles used by that heroic organization Alcoholics Anonymous. Most famous for their twelve steps, their twelve traditions would make a wonderful charter for change in the “submerging church“.
See how they line up with the Gospel this Sunday?
Note: I have taken the liberty of substituting “Church” for every reference to “A.A.” (From Page 564 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.)
- One – Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon Church unity.
- Two – For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority-a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.
- Three – The only requirement for Church membership is a desire to stop drinking. ( for drinking substitute ” failing to follow Jesus”)
- Four – Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or Church as a whole.
- Five – Each group has but one primary purpose- to carry its message to the alcoholic (Christ Follower) who still suffers.
- Six – An Church group ought never endorse, finance or lend the Church name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.
- Seven – Every Church group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.
- Eight – Church should remain forever non-professional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
- Nine – Church, as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
- Ten – Church has no opinion on outside issues; hence the Church name ought never be drawn into public controversy.
- Eleven – Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films.
- Twelve – Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.
Works for me.
Are we ready for recovery?