Hold on Forever

He left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.

Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief. Then he went about among the villages teaching.

He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.”

So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

Mark 6:1-13

 

I watched a lot of TV as a child. I watched The Dukes of Hazzard, CHiPs, The Muppet Show, The Six Million Dollar Man, Little House on the Prairie, Different Strokes, Happy Days, Battlestar Galactica, The Cosby Show, The Love Boat, The Greatest American Hero, Knight Rider, Miami Vice, Sanford and Son, and Fantasy Island. My childhood seems to be bursting at the seams with memories of my favorite shows.

I love to talk about these memories with my brothers and sisters. A few weeks ago I went home to Los Angeles. This time my wife, Meredith, came with me. This was her first time meeting most of my family. This was my first time going home with my new home in tow.

I got to introduce her to my home as a child. I was really excited to play tour guide. I took her to my high school. I took her to my childhood home. I took her to my teenage home. I took her to the last apartment I lived in before I left Los Angeles. I took her to my favorite restaurants. I took her to almost everywhere that was near and dear to me. She was exhausted by the end of day one and we had an entre week left.

I was a kid in a candy store. I had wished, dreamed, and prayed about this for the last four years. I wanted to share my home with Meredith ever since we started dating. With child like eyes we landed in Los Angeles and I became that seven year old prophet that was obsessed with The Muppet Show all over again.

Some of the greatest prophets I know are children. Children see this world with eyes of wonder and grace. They trust openly and with earnest. They hold tension between the here and not yet with marvelous ease. They have not yet been given our to cynicism or suffering as many of us have.

What does it mean to be a prophet? The prolific author and pastor Walter Brueggemann tells us that the prophet must “nurture, nourish, & evoke a consciousness & perception alternative to the consciousness & perception of the dominant culture around us.”

A prophet is nurturing.

A prophet invests in the world around them.

A prophet is counter-cultural.

A prophet is evocative.

A prophet is homeless.

I love Brueggemann’s definition of prophet as it embodies for me what Jesus did 2,000 years ago and what Jesus calls us to do here today. We are called to nurture. This means that we are to feed, protect, care for, & support others in community.

We are called to invest in the world around us. Investing in our community draws us in to relationship. A relationship in which the best parts of you is shared with the us, as the worsts part of you in refined along side the worst parts of us in the wonder-working power of Jesus Christ.

We are called to be counter-cultural. We are to be in the world and not of the world. This is when we feed the hungry, cloth the naked, and love the hard to love as we speak truth to injustice that harms us all. To be counter-cultural we must bear witness to the justice delivered in living a life as Christ calls us to. This is the loving your neighbor as yourself.

We are called to be evocative. We are to be artists, poets, writers, and dreamers that elicit visions of hope and love that point towards the liberated mind of justice and the freedom found in reconciliation unto God. We use the canvas of Gods creation to form, focus, and reframe it’s fearfully, wonderfully made beauty to guide our relationships.

We are all called to be prophetic in our faith. Some of us live in a perpetual season of prophecy and others enter in to and out of prophetic witness many times in their life. Some of us deny the prophetic work we are called to and like Jonah go the other way.

We are all called to be prophets.

In todays text we see Jesus return home and encounter all of his old buddies. This is some sort of strange scene out of a John Hughes film. Son leaves and explores the world making a name for himself. He writes books, gives speeches, and get famous. He returns home for a visit.

He has changed a lot. Some of his old friends still work at the grocery store they did in high school. Some now work at the bowling alley. Some work in the oil fields. Some became teachers. Many left years ago and did not return.

The town is worse for wear and the older folks remember the Cain Jesus raised as a teenager. No one can shake that this man before them is the same awkward teen that flooded the firehouse. He is performing miracles…yadda yadda yadda.

No one pays attention. Jesus takes the posse that came with him and sends them out to work. He equips them with instructions on how to be prophetic from lessons he just learned from his homecoming.

First lesson is you got to leave home to be a prophet. Since we are all called to be prophetic we all must leave home.

I am not suggesting that we all pick up and move to some distant foreign land. I want us to look at home. What does it mean to be home? Safety, security, or comfort? Home is wrapped up in the idea of safety & security. Home is comfortable. Home is more than the physical location of our stuff.

Home is that place in our minds that make us feel safe. Home is that place in our minds that keep us comfortable. Home is the space that holds our beliefs, our ideas, our likes and dislikes, and our biases.

This is the home we must leave behind. We cannot be prophetic if we carry with us our home. If we do not leave this home behind, we risk the bondage of home quickly becoming our prison.

As we depart from home and explore the world, Christ tethers us to community and as we witness and encounter God in new ways. We may never develop a home again. We awaken to the reality that any security outside of Jesus the Christ is nothing more than a lie we sinfully hold on too. We learn that safety is a mirage in the desert we wander in. Living the prophetic life is dangerous.

A prophet is nurturing.

A prophet invests in the world around them.

A prophet is counter-cultural.

A prophet is evocative.

A prophet is homeless.

Home. Home. Home. Home. Home. Home. Home. Home. Home. Home. Home. Home. It is a funny sounding word. Home, is the idea we are sold in just about everything we watch. There are no TV shows about homeless folks wandering around.

I have held on to the idea that one day my wife and I would return home to Los Angeles. That my wife and I would eventually settle down in to our life together back home and then we could get to the real living and make a home together.

A part of me was always taking an inventory. Sure it is expensive to live in Los Angeles, but you get much more in return. I found myself talking things up prior to our trip. I prayed on several occasions that God would clear the way and melt the heart of my beloved so that she could see this place I called home for what is was, “our predestined love nest of hope and glory.”

Something happened on this trip. I drove around all the homes I had known in my 33 years living in Los Angeles and with each passing building the memories flooded in and my heart did not budge. It was not a cold and isolating experience. It was more of a recognizing of old friends and loves have moved on from each other. I tried to mourn or weep but it did not seem appropriate.

My home is gone. I can never return home. I am no longer the person that occupied that home. God has got a hold of me and has shaken up my very being. God has opened my eyes to see. God has given me ears to hear. I have failed, mourned, and pleaded with God in the process. I cling to pieces of home, knowing that the fight for my mind is in full swing.

I left home and have been wandering the desert in search of The Promised Land. The Israelites wandered the dessert for 40 years. Jesus hung out in the desert for 40 days. The desert fathers and mothers vacationed in the desert for lifetimes. Countless souls search for the divine in a diversity of ways. I have been in the desert, searching for something.

We all wander the desert. The desert is the wild to which we roam until we find rest in the home of Jesus the Christ. God has been calling us out of the desert. We want to go but we have grown fond of the desert. We are comfortable here. It has become our home. It has become that place in our minds that make us feel safe. It has become that place in our minds that keep us comfortable. It has become the space that holds our beliefs, our ideas, our likes and dislikes, and our biases. Jesus is calling us to be prophets and to be prophets we have to leave home.

2 thoughts on “Hold on Forever

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