Gracious Words Flowing from the Mouth of Jesus

February 3, 2019

Amazement captures the synagogue and those who gather to hear Jesus speak.  The Gospel writer Luke tells us of the wonder and awe, of the amazement at the gracious words that came from the mouth of Jesus.  Yet despite all of this, doubt and question enter the picture.  They begin to lose the amazement and graciousness and allow themselves to leave the calm and goodness of Jesus’s words.  They begin to question the source of Jesus and how He can have this wisdom.  Amazement is also removed when they become reactionary and take offense to the challenges Jesus puts forth.  So often times we lose the amazement and wonder of things.  We analyze too quickly, we dissect with laser style accuracy moments to see if we can explain what is happening.  Too often we leave the starting point to think there is something else better.

Words are powerful, yet what is communicated beyond words is what changes lives.  Paul in the second reading speaks of love.  Words without love cannot move mountains or inspire others, they are empty.  Paul tells us words must find the love at the core to communicate belief.  The love that never fails is the love God has for us.  This love is patient and kind and always ready to forgive.  When Jesus spoke, His words found this eternal love at the core.  That is what first attracted the disciples and the synagogue members to be amazed.

In the first reading the prophet Jeremiah speaks of the word of the Lord coming to him.  It speaks of the eternal word that was given before he was in his mother’s womb or born.  He as a prophet speaks of his calling as a response to this word placed in his heart for all eternity by God.  It is that word that gives home to the mission of being a prophet.  When we connect with the words that connect with the depth of our souls, when we connect with the gift of God’s gracious words that form our existence, we begin a journey of discovery.  We are to never leave that place of discovery or lose the sense of amazement that comes with God loving us so much that He will speak to us of blessings and a year of favor.  We are called not to dissect the source or analyze it, but rather we are called to be drawn up into it.  What a blessing, what a gift; God communicating with us.  If we just let that penetrate our being, if we can allow that to sink in, it can move our souls and change the way we live.

It is in the experience.  What moves us to tears?  What inspires us?  How well do we see the moment right now and right here as a gift?  When I was being trained to be a nature director at the Boy Scout Camp in Elcho, Wisconsin, I had the opportunity to meet Steve Van Meter.  He was a teacher who believed that an experience should not be named until a relationship with the experience is established.  So in identifying trees like the difference of an oak from a maple, or a blue spruce from a Norfolk pine, a child should first feel the branches, run up on the bark, taste the needle and be able to identify those differences before identifying it by its biological name.  It was an experiential event I will never forget, yet to this day I know that the needles of trees roll differently in your fingers because they come from different families. The smell of pine needles is different than the smell of a forest filled with oak trees.  Too often once we name things and identify them our experience of them changes.  A rose is a rose.  These experiences slowed the process down and allowed us to experience the tree or plant long before we named it.

The same patience and wonder can be used in the God experiences of our soul.  Before we analyze what God is saying, it might be good to center in the word that sounded the experience.  What caught our attention?  What does it feel like to hear the voice of our all powerful God?  Does it shake our entire being?  Does it bring us peace?

Our God is an awesome God!  We are to be amazed at the graciousness of His words which are spoken in our lives.

Reverend  John J. Ouper