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Sunday Message for 23 January 2022: “Beyond Familiarity”

Today’s message combines two weeks’ lectionary readings into a coherent unit, covering Luke 4: 14-30. Here Jesus talked about not being accepted by those who know you best: “ ‘Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown’ “ (Luke 4:24). This gives rise to the cliché about how familiarity breeds contempt. When people know you too well it can prejudice their perceptions. Jesus faced this same issue.

Sometimes when sharing a great truth the hearers dismiss the wisdom because of how much they think they know the messenger. Such a familiarity by observers can limit your potential to reach people with a vital message. Others’ knowledge of your imperfections and fallibility can also rob credibility from a teaching you want to share.

Have you ever wanted to make a point but felt limited by someone’s preconceived opinion? Even if no one actively dislikes you, it can be hard to transcend what people already think of you. Jesus faced the same challenge when he returned to his hometown and preached at the local synagogue (roughly equivalent to a church). The people listening to Jesus thought that they knew Jesus so well that he couldn’t possibly be anything other than that peculiar little son of Joseph and Mary. To their detriment, the people who didn’t take Jesus’ seriously ended-up not benefitting from his message.

Do you ever feel that those closest to you can escape your expectations? Humans are inveterate problem-solvers. Folks like to figure things out and file things comfortably in their mental filing cabinet. But the tendency to predict, label and categorize causes problems when it limit’s other peoples’ potential. It is easy to take for granted the power of those closest to you. We can all miss the opportunity to be spiritually enriched if we dismiss the possibility of wisdom from friends, family and neighbors. We can overlook God’s blessings if we neglect to hear and see the miracles walking in front of us.

Does the situation outlined today reflect the behavior of those nearest you?  Without even knowing it you can also discourage people and fail to recognize how they carry with them unique possibilities. Any of us can be blinded, neglecting to admit the potential of folks close to us, those with whom we have become comfortably numb (to borrow a phrase from a Pink Floyd rock song). A habit of thinking and relating to people isn’t always helpful if it limits your ability to affirm God’s presence in yourself or others.

You are challenged to be awakened because God often reveals wisdom and blessings through our circle of family and friends. Some people don’t leverage personal growth because they don’t like how it feels to be rejected by relatives and friends. Open your heart and mind to transformation and resist typecasting people or arbitrarily limiting them through narrow preconceptions. Especially for spiritual revitalization, strive for openness. You can listen actively and respect how God’s voice comes through those near you.

What do you want to share about God’s presence in your life? Perhaps you can proclaim how God empowers you. Feel free to stand and share the blessings of your faith (just as Jesus did). If you have words of encouragement then make it known so that we can all benefit. Church is where we can share!

As people of faith, we are here to encourage and enliven one another. God stands ready to deepen your spirituality as you share who and what you are. If you don’t feel heard by people who know you then shout all the more and don’t allow their casual neglect to dim your light. Announce the presence of God and speak wisdom to all who will listen.   –Reverend Larry Hoxey

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