1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Psalm 96:1, 3, 4-5, 11-12, 13
I found the Gospel for today delightful because Jesus' words
were presented in a context of such wonderful realism. I've been accustomed
to Jesus outdoors -- on a mountain top, at a riverbank, in a garden, the
center of attention doing things I don't do or don't see others do.
But here we see Jesus doing what I've seen others do indoors, and doing something
like what I've done myself. "He stood up to read and was handed a scroll...
He unrolled the scroll and found the passage... Rolling up the scroll,
he handed it back and sat down..."
As a lector at my parish church, I have stood up to read, I've found the
right passage, read it, and sat down. Of course today's Gospel contains
the famous passage about a prophet not being accepted in his native place,
and I certainly have never been turned upon by people filled with fury.
It is not the furious people that are real to me right now, but rather those
simple words describing Jesus's actions. Today those actions as described
in the Gospel have new importance because they show our Lord doing what all
of us can do, even regardless of our specific faith tradition.
Jesus was like the young woman at the Bat Mitzvah I attended at Beth El synagogue
in Omaha, assuming the responsibility for communicating the wisdom of the
Torah, or like the men I saw reading from the bimah, (the reading platform)
at Beth Israel synagogue. Jesus was like the Methodist minister announcing
the Gospel in a small white-frame country church among the cornfields, or
like a Jesuit declaring to a big church filled with college freshmen that
theirs was a mission for others. He was even like a Winnebago Indian
at a pow-wow in Thurston County, dancing to affirm his family's long-held
belief that a Great Spirit was at the heart of their universe, to be discovered
in the beauty of the land and sky.
All of us at some time can assume a posture and use gestures to lead others
in appreciating some expression of the Word of God. Today's reading
helped me to realize that whether we are actually reading aloud or merely
in some other manner using our gifts of communication, we have the privilege
of declaring the message of the Lord. We are among His people, and
it is our joyous gift to imitate Jesus. From the pulpit or from the
pews, among friends or among the fields, we can be like Him, with confidence,
and with reverence.