Jesus 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 have always considered Cape May Point, New Jersey to be my hometown. My parents owned a house there since before I was born and family gatherings always happened there. Being a clergy kid, we lived in the manse, or rectory, but we knew it wasn't ours. Cape May Point is home. Yesterday, for the first time in 45 plus years the local bicycle parade did not end at our house for kool-aid and cookies. The fire department has taken it on, along with the town, and yesterday they remembered my mother (and dad) who so faithfully and joyfully welcomed all to our front lawn. I have been there for many of the 45 plus years and often preached at St. Peter's by the Sea the following Sunday with this passage from Mark about honor and hometowns. I am so blessed to come from a place where people are honored, loved and respected. Many thanks to my hometown for the love and appreciation.
Jesus comes home and they know him so well, they do not see how things have changed. Nor do they see how the little boy who grew up a carpenter's son and then an apprentice at his father's side, could take the pulpit, read with understanding and be capable of such miracles and love. It is sometimes hard for us to see the full capacity of our former playmates. We are invited to go forth, trusting that God will find us welcome in places other than our hometowns, God will pave away forward, even when we nostalgically ache for an old sense of ourselves. We are always being urged on, as Jesus was, to heal and get beyond our old understandings, our old hometown comforts. We are invited to love beyond our understanding and comfort.
Today I thank God for the blessings and love of my hometown. May we honor the places of our origins by going forward in love, seeking to serve God in all people. May we make welcome those who are on a journey, those who are homeless and those who have no place to come from - today.
God, you have taught us to keep all your commandments by loving you and our neighbor: Grant us the grace of your Holy Spirit, that we may be devoted to you with our whole heart, and united to one another with pure affection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.