Sunday Message for 27 January 2019: “Beyond Familiarity”

As with last Sunday, today’s message combines two weeks lectionary readings into a coherent unit, which covers Luke 4: 14-30. 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). Perhaps the cliché is true that familiarity breeds contempt. When people know you it can undermine what you could otherwise accomplish—at least in their minds. Jesus faced this same issue.

Sometimes, when sharing a great truth, the message becomes corrupted when hearers dismiss your wisdom because they’ve limited your capabilities. It’s as if when someone has an extensive history with you, and knowledge of your strengths and weaknesses, then that familiarity can limit your reputation and potential. Others’ knowledge of your imperfections and fallibility rob credibility from your message.

Have you ever wanted to say something but felt limited by someone’s preconceived opinion? Even if no one actively dislikes you, it can be hard to get positive attention to unleash God’s power. Jesus faced the same challenge when he returned to his hometown and preached at the local synagogue. The people listening to Jesus thought that they knew Jesus so well that he couldn’t possibly be anything other than that innocent little boy from long ago. To their detriment, they ended-up rejecting his message and not benefiting from his insights.

Do you ever feel that those closest to you can seldom surprise you? Humans are problem-solvers, and people like to figure things out and file things comfortably in their thinking. But this tendency to predict, label and categorize causes problems when it limit’s your potential. People can take for granted the creativity and power of those closest to them, with whom they have become too familiar. People miss the opportunity to be spiritually enriched if they dismiss the possibility of wisdom from their friends, family and neighbors. We all risk losing God’s blessings if we neglect to hear and see the miracles in front of us.

Does the situation outlined today reflect the habits and behavior of those around you?  Without even knowing it you can also discourage people and fail to recognize their personal transformation. 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 diverse blessings through those nearest. Some people don’t pursue personal growth because they fear the reactions or lack of recognition from their relatives and friends. Folks avoid rejection, and what a pity that discouragement is fed by lack of support. Open your heart and mind to new possibilities and resist typecasting people or arbitrarily limiting their potential through often misleading stereotypes. Especially during spiritual revitalization, strive for openness. You can listen actively and respect how God’s voice comes through the inspired muse of people near you.

What do you want to share about God’s presence in your life? Proclaim how God has touched you, and feel free to stand and share the blessings of your faith. If you have words of encouragement then make it known so that we can all benefit. It could be that your words will be like medicine to those in need. As people of faith, we are here to empower and enliven one another. The God of promise and possibility stands ready to deepen your spirituality as you share who and what you are, as a child of the Almighty.

–Reverend Larry Hoxey