Summary: A church in decline. A pastor discouraged. A congregation wanting to party as if all were well. Not exactly a great recipe for me to get a sermon. But the Lord spoke to me and took some weight off my shoulders in this sermon.
Welcome to our 2nd Annual Homecoming Dinner. This is actually my sixth October as pastor and the church itself has existed for 14 years. The reason it is the second homecoming dinner is because we decided to start having one last year. This year 30 past and present members were invited. Eleven decided to accept the invitation. The rest rejected the invitation.
Rejection can really be hard to take sometimes. I have often been told that someone shouldn’t take rejection personally. Sometimes that is very difficult to do. But one thing about rejection is you are in good company.
Beethoven’s music teacher rejected him as ‘hopeless’ at composing.
The Wright brothers extended an invitation to witness one of humanity’s most historic moments – the first flight in a heavier-than-air machine. Five people turned up, the rest rejected them.
Walt Disney was rejected by a Missouri newspaper for "not being creative enough."
A missionary’s daughter battled an almost uncontrollable urge to run out of a church service and reject what she considered appalling preaching by Billy Graham. She remained and they one day married.
I have felt the sting of rejection. I recall going to a homecoming dinner at the church where I was saved. We were forced to quit going because we moved and the cost of travel became too great. At the dinner, we felt unwelcome and rejected. For a time I was meeting with well-educated men using terminology that I did not understand. I felt like an outsider whose thoughts and opinions carried no weight. So I quietly crept away from them and in the past five months not one brother in Christ has reached out to check on me. I have seen numerous people leave over the past six years, some with legitimate reasons, some with a simple “don’t take it personal”, some just disappearing with no explanation. I have felt the rejection of reading in social media the joy felt by some that have visited or settled in another church. I have felt the rejection of my ministry as the financial support dwindles each month. Yes, I have felt rejection. But so have you.
I pretty much knows everyone story that’s here. I know the struggles you have gone through. I have seen your tears. I have prayed with you. Rejection is a common bond to us all. It is an emotion that we share, in one form or another, with each other.
Some of you may be thinking, “What kind of homecoming service is this? Shouldn’t it be more upbeat and joyful?” Reality is not all homecomings go very well. Let’s read Mark 6:1 “Jesus left that part of the country and returned with his disciples to Nazareth, his hometown.”
Jesus has had a very busy schedule since launching his ministry. He has been teaching throughout Galilee. He has been healing people with migraines and leprosy. He has healed those who were paralyzed and born with birth defects. He has driven demons out of people. He has cured those that were dying and raised those that were dead. And in the midst of this, He constantly had to battle the religious leaders.
So Jesus was tired. He wanted to rest. And what better place than home, his hometown where his family lived and the friends He had grown up with. But not all went well with his homecoming.
Mark 6:2 “The next Sabbath he began teaching in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. They asked, ‘Where did he get all this wisdom and the power to perform such miracles?’”
The synagogue, or church, was not like today’s church. There was no main speaker. The men of the town would gather and discuss scriptures from the Torah. If you had something to add, you would stand and share with the others. Jesus was at a place where He felt comfortable sharing his teachings. He was away from Jerusalem and the persecution that had been following him. So He began explaining the scriptures in such a way that they were amazed.
But not amazed in a good way. Today you may be amazed that something I cooked is more popular than something you cooked. Right now we Panther’s football fans are amazed with their record after they only lost two games last year. Being amazed is not always a positive thing. And this is what was happening in his hometown. Jesus had made them look at scripture in a different way. He the light of understanding that convicted some of them.
Here is the problem. Jesus does not have the proper credentials to be preaching this way. He never studied under any Rabbi that we are told. He never went to Rabbi school. He’s not qualified to be teaching this way. And He certainly has not been to medical school. Therefore, He’s practicing medicine without a license. So what did they do? They turned on the one that amazed them.