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. And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.”
DEVOTION – OCTOBER 27, 2019
On a recent visit to my hometown, I felt the familiar presence of God in such profound way, I actually started looking around for him. Ah, yes–it was the mountain.
I grew up in a mid-sized town in Wyoming at the foot of a mountain which stretches along its south side. From almost any vantage point of my youth, Casper Mountain served as a substantial, silent reminder of the presence of God. Without knowing it, a theology was being formed.
I understood God to be like a father who watches lovingly over our daily lives, grounded and unmoved. Whenever life got uncomfortable for me–a poor performance at school, an embarrassing encounter with the boy I was crushing on, or the inevitable “mom doesn’t understand me” argument–I could step outside and look to the south. The mountain would anchor me again.
I haven’t been a resident of my hometown since I graduated from high school, but every time I return, I feel God’s presence, not only in the love of my family, but in the landscape.
By contrast, consider Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth. The residents of this sleepy little Galilean village were graced with the earthly, incarnate presence of God himself–and they missed him entirely.
When Jesus returned as an adult to bring the Good News, he faced off with the grown-up versions of the same kids we went to school with: the jocks, the partiers, the nerds. They looked at him and said, “You’re kidding, right?”
They remembered Jesus from school days. Their parents had probably whispered about him because they weren’t quite sure about his parentage. Then, as an adult, he read from the scroll of Isaiah and claimed he has fulfilled it! His message of the Good News was so muddled by memories of kickball matches, practical jokes, school plays–whatever filled the memories of these childhood friends–they could not, or would not, accept that he was the long-awaited Messiah. It was especially hard for his siblings to grasp that their big brother could be the One who would rescue them from themselves.
Earlier in the gospel of Mark (chapter 3), we see his family trying to snatch him and drag him home so he would stop embarrassing them in public! I’m forced to wonder if I would have missed him, too. If the kid down the block had been God in flesh, would I have recognized him?
Further, I’m forced to wonder how many days I miss him, even now. After all, God is with me. How many hours have I wasted worrying about my reputation or income or image while ignoring this mountainous presence of God that quietly dominates the landscape if only I will step outside of myself, and turn my head in prayer?
Please teach me to see your presence in the world around me. Train my mind to consider the lilies instead of walking right by, and let them be my teachers.
Pastor of Women’s Ministry and Centered
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