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Posts tagged ‘change’

Being Short

Zacchaeus . . . was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature.  Luke 19:3 (CEB)

I know what it’s like to have trouble seeing over the crowd.  Even though I’m not exceptionally short – average 5’5″ – there are a lot of people taller than me.  So I can understand Zacchaeus’ frustration in wanting to see this famous rabbi who was passing through Jericho.

Some might say that Zach didn’t have the right to be around Jesus since he was a tax collector and had cheated so many people.  It’s doubtful that he even had friends, especially not Jewish friends.  Tax Collectors were considered some of the worst sinners because they collected the taxes for the Roman government and over charged the citizens so they could keep the rest.

Rome didn’t care how much they charged as long as the government got their share.  So, even in his “outcast” and “shunned” state, Zach still wanted to see this man named Jesus about whom everyone was talking.  He climbed a tree.

When my younger brother was around nine or ten years old, he was always climbing trees, and we finally asked him why he kept climbing them.  His answer was that he could see so much more – it was a “cool view.”  Zach climbed so he could see more – actually so he could SEE Jesus.  There’s nothing more frustrating than not being able to have a glimpse of a famous person!

Yet, Zach got more than he bargained for because Jesus stopped right below the tree and called Zach down.  His day had started out so normal, ordinary, and common but his life totally changed when Jesus encountered him.  Jesus even knew his name – we don’t know why he knew it, but he did.  Think about what that meant to someone who had been scorned and even hated!

Zach changed his way of living by returning four times what he had taken to those he defrauded and gave half his possessions to the poor.  The indication from the Greek is that it was not a one time thing, but an on-going commitment.  Zach went from being a nobody who was trying to be noticed to a somebody who really didn’t care anymore if he was noticed.  Meeting Jesus changed him and his life.

When was the last time you recognized Jesus speaking to you?

How have you changed since welcoming Jesus into your life?

In what ways have your priorities changed?

How will you carry on that change?

Can you go home?

When they heard this, everyone in the synagogue was filled with anger.  They rose up and ran him out of town.”  Luke 4:28-29a (CEB)

Luke 4:14-30 is the story about Jesus returning to his hometown of Nazareth where he goes into the synagogue and reads the scroll of Isaiah.  He then announces that the scripture had been fulfilled in him, meaning that he was the Messiah.  Oops . . .  that didn’t go over very well.

At first people were really impressed with how well their “hometown” boy had done.  Maybe they had forgotten about the questionable circumstances around his birth, but I grew up in a small town where people’s memories don’t fade and the stories go on and on and on.  So, I suspect that they somehow just felt that he had become too “big for his britches,” and the fame he had acquired had gone to his head.

He managed to offend them, and they ran him out of town.  I sometimes wonder if that would have happened in my hometown if I had come in as a famous preacher with lots of publications and awards.  Oh well, I guess I don’t have to worry about that!

What I DO know is, that when I go back to my little hometown to visit my family, everyone still sees me as the child I was when I lived there.  In their minds, I’m still the shy little girl who loved to sing, wear large twirly skirts, and who wore glasses way before anyone else my age did.  Many still call me “Debbie” which I no longer like or even tolerate, but how do you tell the older folks who are your parents’ age to stop calling you something they have called you for over sixty years?  You don’t.

Can you go home again?  Jesus certainly had trouble with it.  As it was, Nazareth didn’t particularly have a great reputation in the nation of Israel.  Philip wondered if anything good could come out of Nazareth.  It was a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities, so Jesus would have been exposed to a wide variety of ideas and religious practices.  He was raised in a poor section of the town, and his family would have worked very hard to make a living.

Of course, we only have this one story about Jesus in his hometown, but I suspect he was home a lot because of his mother.  We can only speculate about Joseph because we don’t hear anything about him except for a few snatches, including the trip to Jerusalem where the twelve-year-old Jesus was in the temple talking to the religious leaders.  It would seem that Mary was a widow at some point after that, so Jesus, the oldest son, would have been responsible for her.  He may have moved her to Capernaum where they made their home and where he lived as his home base.  We don’t know.

Regardless, the less we can take away from Jesus’ return to Nazareth and his experience at the synagogue is that people who know us well don’t always appreciate who we have become.  I was raised in a staunch Republican household.  No one EVER considered voting for a democrat!  As I grew up, I realized that I wanted to vote for the person rather than the party, so I’m registered as an Independent in my state.  When I return to my hometown, I am reminded of the heavy Republican population, so I learned quickly to not get into political discussions (I was never good at debate!).

Most of the people assume I vote Republican, and when I have told them that I vote independently, they think I’ve become a radical liberal.  Hmm.  Maybe I have (at least in that context), and if I have, I definitely would not fit in with those in my hometown should I choose to move back there.  I guess my conclusion is that we can go home, and even though we have changed, we shouldn’t expect those who knew us “before” to see the changes.

So, we celebrate who we are, what we have learned growing up; we celebrate the gifts we were given as children, and we recognize that we don’t need to prove anything to anyone except maybe ourselves.  No matter where we are, God is with us – and with our hometowns, too.

What can we learn from our hometown?

How has your experience of “going home” been?

In what ways are you stronger because of your hometown?

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