You can watch the video of Pastor Kris’ reflection, Holy What Ifs… , HERE.
Let’s start… here. A place where waters were once calm. Clear. Inviting. While in reality it is the middle of winter and the lakes are frozen, wouldn’t it be wonderful to be here? Looking at a calm, inviting body of water, with ripples of possibility?
As you look at the photo, what feelings, thoughts, memories do you have?
Pastor Kris invited people to type their responses in the chat. Responses included:
- “Canoeing with my Dad & sister.”
- “Looks like a fish just jumped. Get your fishing pole.”
- “Pontooning on Long Lake with Jan’s brother and his wife, just North of Rice Lake.”
- “Slowly boating past the Eagles Nest, on one of the little islands on Long Lake.”
- “Inner tubing down our river in the summer.”
- “Watching the water drip from my canoe paddle back into the lake on a hot August morning.”
- “Ever-widening circles.”
Pastor Kris continued…
Words that come to my mind are warming, inviting. It makes me want to jump in. Have some fun! Let the water catch me… and make an even bigger splash!
Wouldn’t that be wonderful? How many of you would like to be there?
On this January morning, only 17 days into a new year which brought with it so much hope after a wild 2020 (because things can’t get any worse, right?), this is where we would like to be. Or, at least I would. I would love to gather on sunlit, familiar terrain—and maybe even have a splash of fun!
So let’s jump in!
Over the past few weeks, we have celebrated the birth of Jesus (that was all of 23 days ago), God born enfleshed on earth. We have traveled through time in Luke’s story and Jesus is now grown. Leading up to today’s verses Jesus has been baptized in the Jordan River, and immediately driven into the desert. During his 40-day retreat Jesus fasts and is tempted. And this is how his ministry begins.
And what a ministry it already is! The buzz around Jesus has reached far and wide. Something is going on. The people of Nazareth are excited. This is their hometown kid who has suddenly made the big time. It’s Jesus! He has built quite a reputation for teaching—and now he is back home teaching them.
All are amazed by his gracious words. This is mind-blowing! Everyone gets warm fuzzies listening to the vision:
“… the Most High 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 our God’s favor (a jubilee).”
(Luke 4:18-19, The Inclusive Bible)
All who heard the message were onboard. Ready to follow.
And this isn’t the first time they have heard these words.
This is an ancient let’s-make-it-happen, let’s hope-against-all-hope in the bitter world around us. Long, long, ago God sketched these familiar words on the heart of the psalmist…
(God)… you keep faith forever:
You secure justice for the oppressed;
You give food to the hungry;
You set captives free;
You give sight to the blind;
You raise up those who were bowed down;
You love those who do justice;
You protect strangers;
You sustain orphans and the bereaved—
But you thwart the way of the corrupt.
(Psalm 146, The Inclusive Bible)
And God asks, “What if… this were all true?”
Yet God looks around and sees humanity hasn’t realized this hoped for restoration and tries again. This next time sending the prophet Isaiah, who speaks these same words. Then scribes produce scrolls. People hear the hope. They see vision. And STILL nothing seems to change on earth.
We are still waiting.
God decides to try a different approach. God responds with yet another reset: and Jesus is born. The fulfillment of Love on earth. In the flesh.
Jesus repeats God’s vision and reality sets in. Jesus speaks to his friends and family about realities of life which are edgy. Edgy enough to drive the people of Nazareth into a rage—and for this they to want to throw Jesus off a cliff.
All because Jesus has just dropped a pebble of Truth into the suffocating desperateness of the status quo. Well… this wasn’t a pebble… but a BOULDER of God’s What Ifs..? In this story, Jesus has just dropped a boulder of Good News into stagnate waters.
So, picture the image again—the photo I showed earlier of calm waters unsettled by wavelets of circles. Now, imagine God tosses a large rock into that same space. What would happen? What do you see?
The congregation was again invited to type the images and words that came to them…
That splash, that unsettling, is God’s reset. The launch of Jesus’ ministry. Listening again to Jesus we do not need to ask, “What if…?” Because God already has.
- What if… the poor were to hear good news?
- What would that look like? Can you see it?
- What if those who were captive, or felt captive, were gifted with release…
- Or the oppressed were liberated from their burden?
- What if we were to feed the widow in Sidon?
- Or provide healthcare to Naaman the Syrian?
This is Jesus’ mic drop moment. Wait for the splash…
Because, now it is our turn. What are the “what ifs…?” we hear God placing before us? What can we envision doing together as a faith community in 2021 and beyond?
The congregation was encouraged to type their own “what ifs…” into the comments. An example response was, “What if… each person had ONE of everything they needed. Not multiples, not excess?”
- The economic disparities in the United States meant that people of color were not disproportionately impacted—and dying from the coronavirus?
- Next week in worship representatives will be here from The Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness. They will be sharing with us their visions of “what if…?” in the work they are doing locally.
- Political, business, and faith leaders spoke out against conspiracy theories and lies? What if WE speak out against white supremacy?
These are boulders of Truth. They are big. Heavy. These are none-of-us-can-lift-alone stones of the change which is urgently needed—and exactly the Good News Jesus tosses into the world today.
So hold on. Get ready. Prepare to experience a splash of Great Hope.
A moment of God’s resetting. A deep, heavy dive of the Holy Spirit splashing outward and onto us at this very moment!
Take some time to feel that.
Breathe it in. Inhale God’s love deeply.
Breathe in the Holy What Ifs…? which lead to liberation and jubilee for all.
~ Pastor Kris
Reflection on Luke 4:14-30 offered January 17, 2021