I was recently planning a day trip to my “hometown” of Pendleton Oregon. I put it in quotes because I wasn’t born there. I just lived there in my formative grade school years. Oh and 7th grade too.
I was hoping to see a few old friends. Most of those I contacted said “gee that’s nice. Make it worth our while, Bring your wife, we want to meet her.” (If I could underline or italicize the word her would be both).
My wife is a very special lady and we tried do that, she was busy recording a Christmas album.
I’m the one who grew up there. I’m the “old friend”. But I get it. Mary is the exotic foreigner. The urbanite princess from the far away city of Ephrata.
Jesus was a homie from Nazareth. He wasn’t born there but he grew up there. He went to the 1st century version of cub scouts there. He went through puberty there. He had his bar mitzvah there. (Did I spell that correctly ?) He worked in his dads shop there.
Matthew 13 tells the story. We have parallel stories in the other Gospels. They are worth the read.
The visit didn’t go well.
“53 When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on from there. 54 Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. 55 “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? 56 Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at him.
But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.”
58 And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.”
I grew up in a church. My family went every time the door was open. My mom even created extra nights of bible studies so we could be there more often. I was hearing the words and seeing the ministry but it had become so familiar that I didn’t see God in any of it. I completely missed the Gospel message. I didn’t hear the good words, the good news.
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
“6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”
The danger is there for me even today, to let the good news become so familiar that I lose God in my spiritual routine.
God loves us. Jesus died to pay for our sins. Not everyone knows that yet. I need to stay aware of that, stay awake and share my story.
For my Pendleton friends, I’ll be back there soon. Put the coffee on. Well not yet. I don’t like old coffee. But soon.