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Epiphany Sermon Series 2001

January 28, 2001 -- Epiphany 4

Luke 4: 21-30

In the village of Tai Wai, an area in greater Hong Kong, there is a temple dedicated to a general. Visitors to the temple stand before a statue of the general that is much larger than life.

The figure stands over twenty feet tall. The story behind the temple is that centuries ago, the general saved the village and its inhabitants from invaders. His bravery and military skills are remembered, and so the temple stands in his honor.

One can visit the temple most hours of any day and find people gathered in prayer and reflection, burning incense or asking insight to their futures. Though generations have passed, the general remains important in the peoples' lives.

Rev David Kaiser and his wife Marlys

David Kaiser
Lutheran Theological Seminary
50, Tao Fung Shan Rd.
Shatin, Hong Kong

Apparently, this general is held in great esteem only by the villagers, for there is no other temple in Hong Kong dedicated to his memory. In today's text, Jesus speaks of a different and opposite reaction when he speaks of prophets and their messages. Prophets, it seems, do not compare with generals when it comes to popularity. They are often without honour in their home towns.

Why would this be? Perhaps it is because generals protect the status quo. They drive away intruders. They keep culture, tradition and the present safe. Prophets, especially those who speak in the biblical sense of speaking on behalf of God, often challenge the very things generals protect. The prophet who speaks on the Kingdom of God call into question all that is, from worship practices to ethical ideals. The prophet asks hearers to consider repentance and reconciliation in their reflections. The truth hurts. Because it does, the prophet's words are critiqued, argued, and often disallowed.

The reaction in the text suggests that the people would have been happier with a general or at least a prophet who could do proper miracles on their behalf and perform feats like winning wars. Show power and gain support. Tell the truth and be rejected.

In this season of Epiphany where God's light shines on us again, we are challenged to reflect on prophetic truth. We are called to celebrate God's Kingdom come among us. We are asked to let God's light shine on us and our allegiances. Then we are asked if we welcome God's presence among us, or like the folks in Jesus' town do all we can to shut God out and shut the prophet up.

-- Rev. David Kaiser
Hong Kong


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