June 17, 2013
Dear brothers and sisters,
I am taking the good news today from Luke 4:14-15.
Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news of him spread throughout the whole region. He taught in their synagogues and was praised by all.
Isn’t this like most new beginnings? Fresh, appealing, full of purpose and promise and affirmation. Powered by vision and enthusiasm drawing upon our core beliefs and values — the Spirit. At first often we find openness among people to the novelty of a new perspective, a new way of presenting familiar concepts — new wine in old wineskins.
It’s likely no accident that Jesus began his ministry in Galilee. Aside from that fact that it was his home territory, Barclay tells us that it was “encircled by non-Jewish nations. Because of that, new influences had always played upon Galilee and it was the most forward-looking and least conservative part of Palestine.” Josephus, historian and one-time governor of Galilee, wrote of its residents, “They were ever fond of innovations and by nature disposed to changes, and delighted in seditions. They were ever ready to follow a leader who would begin an insurrection.” It sounds like a ready-made stage for Jesus’ mission, an audience with receptive ears and minds. It was also populous and, according to Josephus, boasted 204 towns and villages.
New beginnings are exhilarating. It’s like falling in love — idyllic and dream-like. All things are possible and all obstacles seem minor. I can imagine Jesus feeling like this. He just had these amazing experiences of baptism and temptation in the desert, now filled with a sense of power and urgency. These are times to be relished. They fill me to the brim with a reservoir of energy and optimism that I can draw upon when things inevitably get tough and I am challenged to persist and fight to overcome disappointment and despair. This is how I see Jesus at this emergence of a new age of God’s relationship with us; it’s yet another way I can identify with him and take inspiration from him.
I feel just this way now in undertaking the development of a new ministry for the aging. I know it won’t last. There will be challenges, constraints, and disappointments but this isn’t the time to focus on potential problems. This is a time to feel the power of the Holy Spirit, to fill my reservoir with stored energy for when it is needed. This is springtime in the continuing cycle of life, a time to be relished. I need those periodically to fall in love with life all over again, to fall in love with those in my life, to feel the wind of God’s love at my back.