Jesus reveals his truthWhere's the Faith? Thursday, March 17th, 2016
Social Chaos: Where's the Faith?
As a progressive Christian, I believe there are many names for God and many ways to a loving God; this article reflects one of those ways. Take from here what works for you. Celebrate life with joy and peace!
Oh how I love that song from Diana Ross, “I’m coming out! I want the world to know. Got to let it show!”
All of us, at some point in our lives, will most likely have to reveal something that is our truth – and that truth is going to go against the wishes and expectations of family, friends and colleagues. To come out about something is always empowering, but not always safe or comfortable. But in my experience, it’s always worth it!
In the Gospels we see how the life and ministry of Jesus gets clearer. Jesus reveals who he is and what he’s all about. Sounds a bit like coming out to me. And Jesus does this in his home; back to the place where he is already known, where his family, friends and neighbors are; this time, letting them know who he really is.
Jesus takes the opportunity as he attends the synagogue in Nazareth. This would be how he would make known to everyone who he was and what he was all about. This is where he would come out.
Jesus was invited to read from the Hebrew Scripture. He takes the scroll, unrolls it, and reads a text chosen from Isaiah. It just happens to be the passage of Isaiah that includes a prophecy of deliverance for Israel, God’s plan for restoration of God’s people from their persecution. As he reads it with such authority and knowingness, the words become his personal testimony, a recounting of his experience of baptism and testing in the wilderness which brings him to this time where he reads:
“The Spirit of our God is upon me; because God has anointed me to bring Good News to those who are poor. God has sent me to proclaim liberty to those held captive, recovery of sight to those who are blind, and release to those in prison – to proclaim the year of God’s favor.”
He rolled up the scroll and sat down. There was something different in the way Jesus read this familiar text. The people sensed that something had happened. It was as if the words seemed somehow more meaningful, more urgent than when read and heard before. Luke records that their eyes were fixed on him; possibly in anticipation of what he would say when he began teaching.
Jesus then said, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Today. It all begins today. Now you know who I am and what I am all about. Now we can get to the work of ushering in the reign of God. It all begins today. Jesus had come out!
Jesus didn’t put qualifiers on the people who will benefit from his work; this mission was not just to the poor Jew or the oppressed slave or the blind Gentile or the indebted free person. No, the Good News would be to all people.
And this was a dangerous mission for Jesus to say out loud. To be in solidarity with the poor, the captives, and the oppressed would mean that Jesus would be challenging the systems and structures of domination that were already in place. Coming out in this way meant that whatever his plans were and whatever path he would take would be hard going. In coming out this way, Jesus was making himself a target for all those whose interests were vested in the status quo. So absolute is Jesus’ solidarity with those on the margins of society, and so solid is his commitment to challenging systems of domination that he would, in the eyes of those who wanted to keep the status quo, would have to be stopped. And it all began when he dared to come out about who he was and what he was all about.
We, in 2016, living in San Diego, are faced with a choice. We could use the blessings and power we have been given to challenge the status quo and bring a message of freedom, wholeness and blessing to a people demeaned by systems and structures of domination; or we could take for granted that our blessings are only for our own benefit, given to us as a divine right for personal gain. Jesus chose to see his empowerment as a gift to be used for ushering in the reign of God.
Coming out is not just a one-time process, it’s something we have to continually do in many different settings and circumstances and to many different people. When I came out, my mom wanted me to write a newsletter to our entire extended family. Looking back, maybe there was wisdom in that! Instead, I needed to come out one person at a time, one conversation at a time.
Perhaps, what the world needs now more than ever, are people willing to come out who stand on the side of those on the margins, bringing good news to all those who have been excluded, persecuted and cast aside.
In every prayer we offer, every hymn we sing, every social justice campaign we support, every contribution we make, every person we feed, every prisoner we visit, every person we embrace, every religious minority we respect, every homeless person we help shelter, every person in recovery we encourage, every immigrant we welcome, we show solidarity to the call and mission of the Jesus of Nazareth, who came out to his hometown community as a prophet proclaiming the reign of God to all people. Now that’s Good News! And that’s one powerful coming out story too!
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