2018-19 RCL-C Fourth Sunday After Epiphany
Additional Resources for Proclamation & Preaching
Epiphany 04: February 3, 2019 • Gospel Text: Luke 4:21-30
The Trouble With Opening Scripture
Proclamation for Today
by Rev. Dr. Clint Schnekloth
Whenever I see a MAGA hat, or hear America First, I immediately think of this passage. It’s not immediately clear to hearers of this text why that might be so. So let’s focus: what generates incredible ire, what causes all in the synagogue to be filled with rage is a seemingly simple observation of Jesus: in the time of Elijah and Elisha, the miracles performed through those prophets were performed among non-Israelites. including a foreign widow, and Naaman the Syrian.
Insulated communities, groups who have become very comfortable (and confident) in a local parochialism, will inevitably fear the foreigner. Comfortable forms of religion will assume that God is especially here, with us, and not with those dirty, unbelieving, immoral foreigners. So what Jesus does in this very brief meditation on the text assigned to him for the day is profoundly disorienting. He reminds everyone that God’s blessings at the time of the prophets went to those foreigners—and exclusively.
If we are to imagine this pictorially, we would need to imagine that by mentioning the foreigners while seated in synagogue worship, he is bringing the stranger right into the pure place of worship. A homogenous, small synagogue community now finds itself face to face with a foreign widow and a foreign military commander.
Or, conversely, by preaching in this way he is lifting the sacred text and moving it to foreign soil. Like, transporting the text and the hearers onto foreign territory.
Either way, it’s offensive. And it’s offensive precisely to anyone whose nationalism has trumped everything else, so the wideness of God has been narrowed to the confines of one nation. Tricky thing is, anyone preaching the text with clarity should anticipate the same kind of response, because in most instances communities of faith have developed nationalist accretions as strong or stronger than this synagogue.
This is also as good a time as any to remember there can be an opposite homiletical danger: self-righteousness. Some congregations, and many clergy, pride themselves on their love of foreigners. “We would never be like this synagogue.” So, for the preaching of such a text to perform that which it reports, the preacher will need to do real soul-searching in order to spec out who for you, the preacher, would it are offensive for Jesus to bring up in relationship to this text. Who is the foreigner you’re often unaware you desire to exclude?
The following links and resources are not produced or maintained by RCL Worship Resources or Clergy Stuff. However, at the time of this posting, the links were active and considered to be good source material for proclamation for the text for this week. Please scroll down or click on the quick jump menu you find below. Click here for more free RCL worship resources & planning materials.
"Jesus - the Preacher Nobody Wanted to Hear," Nancy Rockwell, The Bite in the Apple, 2016.
Evangelio Comentario del San Lucas 4:21-30 por Francisco Javier Giotia Padilla, Working Preacher, 2016.
Luke 4:21-30 Commentary by Roy Harrisville - Working Preacher
Luke 4:21-30 Commentary by Karoline Lewis - Working Preacher
Exegetical Notes by Brian Stoffregen at CrossMarks Christian Resources (excellent commentary on the aspects of grace)
"Offended by the Nice Little Kid from Nazareth," Pastor Edward F. Markquart, Grace Lutheran Church, Seattle, Washington.
A Good Read
Contemporary Music - Green Day “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”
Free Current RCL Daily Devotional
More Reading For You
Current RCL Worship Trends
Dramatic Reading of the Text
Readers: Narrator, Jesus, Crowds Narrator: Then he began to say to them,
Jesus: Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.
Narrator: All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said,
Crowds: Is not this Joseph’s son?
Narrator: He said to them,
Jesus: Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, “Doctor, cure yourself!” And you will say, “Do here also in your hometown the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.”
Narrator: And he said,
Jesus: Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown. But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.
Narrator: When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.
Capernaum: kuh-PUHR-nay-uhm Zarephath: ZAIR-uh-fath