Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone. When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
William Willimon, a bishop in the Methodist church, shares this experience in his book, Pastor. “I was invited to preach in a congregation being led by a friend of mine. The church is a predominantly African American congregation, located in one of the poorest parts of the city. I arrived at the service a few minutes before eleven on Sunday. We did not really begin until a quarter after the hour. Then we had four anthems by the choir, assorted praise songs with the congregation, spirituals, and two offerings. I did not begin to preach until just after noon. After I preached, my friend had “just a few things to add,” which took us until nearly one o’clock. After the service, standing in the parking lot, I asked my friend, “Why do your people take so long to worship?”
He laughed and replied, “Why does worship take our folks so long? Well, I’ll explain it this way. Male unemployment is running about 20 percent in this neighborhood; young adult unemployment is higher. That means that when my people get on the street, everything they hear is, ‘You are nothing. You don’t have a big car or a great job. You are nobody.” So, I get them in here on a Sunday and, through the words of the hymns, the prayers, the sermon, the Scripture, I try to say, ‘That’s a lie. You are royalty. You are God’s own people. You were bought with a price.’ It takes me about two hours to get their heads straight.”
We too, need to get the story right. We need, through the story of God, to be reunited each week to the story of our heritage. We have to get the story right.
There was a ten-year-old boy who was looking at family pictures on his mother’s lap, only this time he realized that the color of her hair, and his facial features didn’t look like anyone else in the family. When he asked his mom about it, his mother decided it was time to tell him that he was adopted. After she got done telling him, the boy became silent, almost rigid. Then tears began to flow down his cheeks and he whispered out, “My mom didn’t want me?”
It so happened that this mother, knew the situation of the biological mother, and she explained how much she did love him, and because of that love, she gave him up for adoption because she knew that the circumstances in her life wouldn’t allow her to be the kind of mother, she knew he deserved. Then the mother hugged her son with all her might and said, “All adoption means is that you grew in your mother’s heart instead of her tummy.”
“My real mom didn’t want me?” – No, no, that precious child needed to know the story. The full story. The story of a young woman who out of love, gave him to a couple she knew would love him with all their heart, soul and mind, and be able to give him all that he needed. This boy needed to get the story right.
And that is why we gather on Sunday and read our Bibles -- to get our story right. For only when we have it right, can we understand who we are, and how much we are loved. We need to remember that we are loved, we are family, therefore we are not alone, we are not orphans in this world.
We need to know the true story of our lives with God, because the story is so easy to forget and when we do, we getting tossed about by life’s waves.
We need to get the story right in our hearts.
~ Pastor Dan