backyardNIMBY is an acronym for the slogan, “Not in my backyard,” and is often the source of resistance when a project which might have a greater good, ends up being planned for the empty lot next to my house. That was my experience years ago when I was on the board of the Valley of the Moon Boys and Girls Club and we were trying to build a new club facility. It was the project which generated support until we identified a specific lot for the project, then the neighbors organized against it. We don’t want our lives to be disrupted from whatever we consider normal, and if there is a cost, we’re more than happy for someone else to bear that cost.

I’m wondering if that’s not an attitude we have when it comes to God’s presence in the world. It’s a good thing for God to be at work in this world, but not right here in my backyard. I don’t want God upsetting the way I’ve organized things and the way I want my life to be run. Now, I don’t mind visiting where God might be at work in extraordinary ways. Visiting the Sighisoara churches in Romania is to be with people living on the edge of faith, leaning into what God might do next.

The challenge is, can I live God’s way where I live? Then there’s the challenge of people expecting us to stay in the “box” that develops over time where the expectation is that we have a role to play in our family and social systems and systems don’t like it when someone starts living a new way and embracing a new role. In fact, our family and social systems have very subtle, but powerful ways to keep us within our prescribed role. To embrace God’s will for our lives instead of the will of the people around us challenges the system. Jesus ran into that from the people of his home town. Who does he think he is? He is the carpenter’s son, not someone mediating almighty God’s presence.

Unfortunately for them, that’s exactly what Jesus was and is today for us. Mark 6:1-6: Jesus left that place and went back to his hometown, followed by his disciples. On the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue. Many people were there; and when they heard him, they were all amazed. “Where did he get all this?” they asked. “What wisdom is this that has been given him? How does he perform miracles? Isn’t he the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon? Aren’t his sisters living here?” And so they rejected him. Jesus said to them, “Prophets are respected everywhere except in their own hometown and by their relatives and their family.” He was not able to perform any miracles there, except that he placed his hands on a few sick people and healed them. He was greatly surprised, because the people did not have faith. Then Jesus went to the villages around there, teaching the people.

More on Sunday…

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