The St. John’s Pulpit
St. John’s Baptist Church 300 Hawthorne Lane Charlotte, NC 28204
WHEN HOME IS NO LONGER HOME
Luke 4:21-30 and 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Fifth Sunday after Epiphany, February 10, 2019
by Senior Minister, Rev. Dennis W. Foust, PhD
In the Walt Disney production of Tangled, Rapunzel sings, “
“All those days watching from the windows
All those years outside looking in
All that time never even knowing
Just how blind I’ve been…”
Flynn sings in response,
“All those days chasing down a daydream
All those years living in a blur
All that time never truly seeing
Things, the way they were”
Then the singing voices of Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi enjoin to sing this phrase:
“All at once everything looks different now that I see you.”
In his hometown synagogue, Jesus told two stories to his home congregation.
Jesus was trying to help them see through the eyes of God’s loving heart.
First, Jesus reminded them of a story about Elijah as told in 1 Kings 17.
There were drought and famine in the land of Judah.
Elijah was suffering and found his way to Zarephath, a city on the coast of Sidon.
There, God used a Gentile widow to care of Elijah’s hunger and thirst.
The widow’s son was dying; Elijah prayed for him and God healed that Gentile boy.
The other story Jesus told was about Elisha as told in 2 Kings 5.
Naaman was commander of the Syrian army that made war against Israel.
Naaman took captive a young Israelite girl to be a servant to his wife.
That young Israelite girl suggested to Naaman that he seek out the prophet Elisha.
She said that Elisha might be willing to pray and help with Naaman’s leprosy.
God used Elisha to heal Naaman of his leprosy, but no Jews were healed.
What Jesus was saying to the people of his hometown was this:
God loves other people just as much as God loves your children and your kind of people.
Jesus’ message messed with their sociological exclusivism disguised as theology.
The Nazarenes were enraged and drove Jesus to the cliff at the town’s edge.
And, from that day forward, Nazareth, Jesus’ home, was no longer home.
Today, we begin a partnership with Together in Christ International Ministries.
The people of this faith community are our sisters and brothers in Christ.
Their roots are in Sierra Leone, a nation on the western Africa coast, north of Liberia.
Brickson Sam: Questions
- Brickson, please tell us when, why and how you and your family and others of your faith community came to the United States.
- What was it like to leave your home in Sierra Leone?
- When you return to Sierra Leone now, does it still feel like home, or is it different?
- When you think of your “home” today, where is it and what makes it home for you?
- How can we help you and the members of Together In Christ International Ministries find a home among us?
If you are here today, and you are looking for a home for your active faith, a home for your relationship with God, welcome home to St. John’s.
If you have been told that your racial background, your personal history, your sexual orientation, your doctrinal perspective, your religious orientation, etc. is unacceptable in another faith community, we welcome you home to St. John’s.
Within this faith community, we want to be more than noisy gongs or clanging symbols.
We want to live out the love of God.
We try to be patient and kind rather than jealous, boastful, proud or rude.
We seek to rejoice when truth wins out and never rejoice about injustice.
Veteran CNN reporter, Peter Arnett, told the story of being in Israel on the West Bank when a terrorist bomb exploded. Bodies literally flew through the air as blood splattered everywhere. A man came running up to him holding a badly wounded little girl. The man shouted, ‘Mister, the soldiers have sealed off the area. We must get her to a hospital, or she will die. You’re the press and can get us through the barriers. Please help me!”
Arnett put them in the back seat of his jeep, covered them with blankets and drove to the hospital in Tel Aviv. On the way, the man kept saying, “Go faster, please mister, go faster,” and then he started moaning the words, “Oh, I’m losing her, I’m losing her!” A few minutes later, they arrived at the hospital. A doctor came to them and explained they could not save her life; she had died. The man started convulsing in tears, crying and screaming. After the man settled a bit, Arnett said, “I don’t know what to say. I don’t have any children. I don’t know what it’s like to lose a daughter.”
The man looked at Arnett and, through his tears, said, “I am a Jewish settler. That little Palestinian girl is not my daughter. But, mister, the time has come when all of us must learn to look at everyone as a daughter or a son of God. The day has come when we must discover what it means to be the family of God.”
“All at once everything looks different now that I see you.” Amen and AMEN.