Three Years in Fairmount

(preached July 17, 2005 at Grant UM Church south of Fairmount)

Scripture: Luke 4:14-22
Introduction:

  • Bush's visit to Indianapolis
  • The precautions when someone important is coming to town
  • The helicopter that blissfully strayed into forbidden airspace
  • Important people can come from nowhere--James Dean, Dick Van Dyke
  • But you don't choose where you were born
  • Jesus chose Bethlehem in part, Nazareth in full, Galilee
  • These places have big churches now (aside on state of these Palestinian cities)
  • But back then they were no where
  • God choosing Nazareth, Capernaum, Bethsaida, Chorazin... It's like God choosing to spend three years in Fairmount.

Point 1: God took time out for an old "friend": Israel

  • The movie Elf, the son interrupting the board meeting--even when you're working on big plans, some people are important enough to interrupt and spend some time with them
  • God was working on big plans, the salvation of the world, the final end to evil.
  • He took the time to come to Israel, the people with whom he had such a long relationship
  • The puzzling story of the Syro-Phoenician woman--God was focusing on Israel
  • Matthew 10--Don't go [yet] to the cities of the Samaritans and Gentiles
  • The woman who touched the hem of his garment, he stopped what he was doing
  • God is faithful to you all here today. He's not too busy with important things to take time for you. Sure there are terrorists blowing themselves up. God has the time to stop by Grant United Methodist Church on a Sunday morning just to let you know He hasn't forgot you. He has time to listen to your prayers and meet you in the singing. When you're in a relationship with Him, He's in it for the long haul--even when we aren't keeping up our end of the relationship.
  • Who do you need to stop and spend some time with... despite your busyness?

Point 2: God was most interested in those who had lost their way: the sinners

  • I don't know much about sheep, but I have been around some dogs that don't have much activity going on it their heads--the story of Happy and Princess running away in winter
  • The lost don't always realize they're lost.
  • Jesus didn't come to focus on the "righteous." I don't mean to negate my first point, but Jesus was as much on a rescue mission in Israel as on a visit to those who had kept in touch.
  • Story of two sons in Matthew 21. Ironically, the son who had been trying to be faithful, didn't accept Jesus in the end.
  • But the sinners did, toll collectors and prostitutes.
  • John Wesley talked a lot about God's grace that comes to us when we aren't looking for it. Chances are, if you're here this morning, you have done better at keeping up in your relationship with God than the prostitutes and toll collectors of Jesus' day. If so, I invite you to reflect and celebrate the times God was watching out for you and you didn't even know you were in need.
  • If you have family, friends, or know of people who need God's help desperately, but don't seem to want it. I invite you to revel in the faith that God is there with them, pursuing them, wooing them.
  • God won't let you face more than you can bear. If you are maturing, you should be able to bear more and bear the longer you walk with God.

Point 3: ... In Nazareth, Cana, Bethsaida, Chorazin, Capernaum

  • Where are these places? Answer: no where
  • My son has no real understanding of space yet, he's five. Sometimes when I'm taking a short cut across the back roads of Indiana and all there is is corn field, he gets a little worried.
  • That's where these places were in Jesus' world. We all know of them today. They have big churches today. But back then, the idea of the messiah coming from Nazareth? Preposterous.
  • It was so preposterous that John the Baptist apparently had some second thoughts. He sends to Jesus to see if he's the one.
  • Jesus' response was to recap to John's followers the things we read in our Scripture today
  • the blind gained their sight, captives received liberty, the poor heard good news.
  • It must have been a real pain to live under the rule of Herod... taxation to build things when they were subsistence farmers... more on this
  • Jesus wasn't just interested in the spiritual. He was interested in their earthly existence too.
  • We all plan to be in heaven. But what "little thing" are you struggling with today?
  • The student who dropped the engagement ring in the snow... and couldn't find it for weeks. God cares about these kinds of things no matter who you are

Conclusion:

  • Why Galilee? Many reasons. One was surely to show us how it's done.
  • Start where you are.
  • My supervised ministry in Harrodsburg, Kentucky. I haven't been back for over fifteen years, but it was where I was at the appointed moment and I ministered to those in a retirement home for three months.
  • How great is God's love for you?
  • Picture him being willing to spend three years in Fairmount.
  • Picture him being willing to spend three years at your house helping you with the details of your life.
  • Whatever you do, don't be like the places he went. Matthew 11 gives a stern rebuke to these very cities. Not only Nazareth, but Capernaum where he had lived for some time, Bethsaida and Chorazin where he had done most of his miracles. These cities rejected him.
  • Give God the place he deserves in your life--nothing less than the very center. You won't be disappointed!