Next Sunday’s text takes us to Jesus’ inaugural address in his hometown synagogue. He tells it straight and the people don’t much like it. Such a short and simple address – less than two minutes! Most of it was quoting that oft-repeated passage from Isaiah. Many had heard it so often they could quote it by heart. The clincher was the assertion that followed, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” The selected text ends here – you need to read on to see how the Nazareth congregation responded and how Jesus’ sermon turns dialogical.
But next Sunday, we are the congregation and it will be our turn to react. Think of the space Jesus speaks from – the Epiphany season has honed us. This is the Jesus who, as an infant, was acclaimed in mysterious universal fashion in the visit of the magi, who evoked divine pleasure as he joined thousands of others in the River Jordan’s cleansing rite, and who drew back the curtain on the messianic banquet at a certain wedding in Cana. The congregation will never hear this text the same again, for the words now live in a way that invades and infuses their awareness, and challenges their orientation and practice. Some will welcome this, and others, many others, will resist because the status quo is more predictable and comfortable. But once seen epiphany cannot be unseen. We practise or perish!