Witness in the face of rejection
The Rejection of Jesus at Nazareth
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 offence at him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Prophets are not without honour, except in their home town, 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.
The Mission of the Twelve
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.
But here is where Jesus appoints us to go – to go out into the world to bear this Good News in the face of persecution and rejection. God’s love, is for all. God’s desire is wholeness and healing for all people. We have been commissioned by God to take this news to all people. For we, just like the disciples, have been given the power and authority over all those “unclean forces” of evil, hate, judgement, sickness, and the devil my friends. That as Christians in the world we are called to contend with all those things that make people unclean, unwanted, unloved, and uncherished – to remind them that they have a place in God’s love, grace, mercy, and life. We have been commissioned by God, through Jesus, to spread this Good News where ever we go – but especially in those marginal places of our world that are wrecked by the constant barrage of Bad News. Because we know the Good News, of Jesus Christ, and that calls us to bear witness in all of the places we go.
I think about the incredible witness and story we have to tell about the openness of our table – that here, no matter where you are you are welcome to commune with us. The central welcome and hospitality that we offer is one that we share with anyone, anywhere, even beyond this place. As we seek to become what we eat – we become the very presence of Christ for others who need to experience grace, forgiveness and love because we have been transformed at this table. And I am so excited that we get to share that experience and that witness of Christ in our lives with two new disciples today. For we hope and we pray that from this day onward, they too, might begin to “pay forward” the grace they experience at this table. Offering God’s love to others they meet through their words and deeds and actions. For today is but the beginning of the whole rest of their lives being nourished and empowered by the very real and very tangible presence of Jesus Christ in their lives.