January 9, 2022
Well, the holidays are over and our minds are moving in new directions so I thought it was time for a new focus in my sermons. I’ve always been amazed by what happened when Jesus had a real encounter with someone!
It doesn’t take a long study of the way Jesus operated to see that he was all about encounters with people mostly one at a time! – not about projects completed, wealth accumulated or accomplishments that reached the attention of the press. Many of those seemed quite unplanned and random! But because of them, the whole world was changed! I want to know more about that – and I chose to use the book of Luke!
At the very beginning of his public ministry, he did two things: 1) Jesus was baptized by John and 2) He spent many days with God in the wilderness. And then he goes to the area of Galilee and town of Capernaum – filled with the POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. He was a stunning success! Any wannabe rock star would be green with jealousy!
Luke 4:14 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15 He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.
For the second leg of his public ministry, he goes home to the tiny village where he grew up – Nazareth. We are not prepared for what happened next!
On the Sabbath, he does the scripture reading from Isaiah. When it was over, he immediately sensed that what he did in Capernaum he would never be able to do in Nazareth!
Nobody knows the reason that he couldn’t. There must have been some sort of attitude, a blockage, a major wave of interference in Nazareth.
The people were furious! To the point of rage! They drove him out of town – to the cliff edge on which the town was built and tried to “hurl him off the edge of the cliff.” There is no record of Jesus ever going back to Nazareth again!
Although the Luke account doesn’t specifically say so, I think Jesus was saying: “This is out of my hands! Something is not right here! If he were an electrician, he might have said: There is something disconnect here. I simply CANNOT do in this town what I did in Capernaum.”
In Capernaum, all the components for miraculous transactions were in place – the connections were engaged – and the people were willing. But here, it just won’t happen. Now, you can never program God. Even if everything is in fine order, things may not come out like we think they should, but if the ingredients are not assembled, if the wires are not all connected, the power will be missing!
I can’t say why things didn’t work in Nazareth! Maybe it was something in Jesus – maybe it was the unwillingness of the people to change. But the fact is, the power of God in Jesus could be stymied! And they were so unwilling to look at that and correct it that transformative encounters never happened in Nazareth!
But when it works! When everything is aligned and when the student and teacher are both ready, sparks fly and a connection is made and lives are changed. When the power of the Holy Spirit was free to do what God does in the lives of the people, transformation happened! Again and again it happened as Jesus just engaged the people he met on the streets, in the villages, on the road, and in the gardens. Those connections still happen and miracles result!
This is not as unusual as you might think.
Have you ever noticed those first few days and months of new lovers? Have you seen their eyes, felt the energy and watched broken places and wounded hearts healed right before your eyes?
When all the ingredients are in place and hearts are open, sparks fly. Lives are never the same!
Read the words to “Some Enchanted Evening” (see below)
Now for you less romantically inclined, you are certainly aware that right here in this room and in the atmosphere around here, there are hundreds / thousands of signals, messages, impulses zipping through the very space between us! Things are happening here in this room which never cross our awareness. We may not be aware of them, but if we have the right stuff, if conditions are right and we are in the right place and the right time, a transformational encounter happens right before our eyes we see differently, we hear differently, and we know what we never knew before.
Luke is just filled with encounters with Jesus which resulted in amazing and wonder- filled transformations in people’s lives! It is SO exciting to think about them but more than that, I want to be a part of that sort of encounter!
I want St. Johns to have such an encounter with Jesus. I want YOU to have such an encounter and I want for you to be able to experience being a part of just such a transformational encounter in your routine connections with the people in your circles of friends and acquaintances. It CAN happen!
I know it can because as Jesus got more experience under his belt seeing the power of God make transformational changes in people’s lives all over the Judean countryside, he very clearly told us that his power can be experienced in our everyday lives when he said: “Where two or three have gathered in my name, THERE I AM IN THE MIDST!”
“Some Enchanted Evening”
by Frank Sinatra
Some enchanted evening, you may see a stranger
You may see a stranger across a crowded room
And somehow you know, you know even then
That somehow you’ll see her again and again
Some enchanted evening, someone may be laughing
You may hear her laughing across a crowded room
And night after night, as strange as it seem
The sound of her laughter will sing in your dreams
Who can explain it, who can tell you why?
Fools give you reasons, wise men never try
Some enchanted evening, when you find your true love
When you hear her call you across a crowded room
Then fly to her side and make her your own
Or all through your life you may dream all alone
Once you have found her, never let her go