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Luke 4:21-30, Fourth Sunday After Epiphany

Key Verse

But [Jesus] passed through the midst of them and went on his way.
— Luke 4:30

RCL Daily Devotion for Sunday, February 3, 2019

RCL Daily Devotions written by Dr. Kimberly Leetch from RCL Worship Resources (see more).

4th Epiphany 2019

Main Idea: Prophetic words can be hard to hear.

Although Jesus didn’t begin his ministry in his hometown, it was one of the first places he visited during his ministry. Word had already spread to Nazareth that Jesus had been teaching and healing throughout Galilee. At first, people in Nazareth welcomed him openly, marveling at his words in the synagogue. But the tone took a turn when Jesus implied that the good news was not for them, but for outsiders. Nobody wants to be told they are not worthy to receive something good. Jesus’ words were hard to hear, as prophetic words often are.

In 2009, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America voted to open ordination to the LGBT community. As a voting member of the assembly, I had the privilege to witness all the conversations leading up to the vote. Many voters wanted to open ordination to all. Other voters either were opposed to endorsing the LGBT “lifestyle” or were concerned for the future of the church. Many had family members that had threatened to leave the ELCA if the vote was passed. They were heartbroken that they might no longer be able to commune with their loved ones, and the possibility of splitting the church was heart wrenching. Many prophetic words were spoken at that assembly. Some were angry. Some were eloquent. Some were hopeful. In the end, the vote was passed with the exact vote needed (one fewer vote, and it would not have passed), and the LGBT community was invited to serve openly as ministers in the ELCA. Some mourned. Others rejoiced. Everyone was stunned and humbled by the gravity of the decision. Whether or not you agree with the ELCA’s decision, the point is this: the prophetic words on both sides were hard to hear. Undoubtedly many were swayed one way or another simply by the voices that spoke with passion and conviction. It was evident just how powerful words can be. The outcome of that prophetic event changed the shape of the ELCA forever. Jesus knew – as we know – that words with power must be spoken with humility and respect, because words can change lives forever.

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Luke 4:21-30 (NRSV)

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