It didn’t start out that way… but before long the town hall meeting in Nazareth turned into a Dead Zone. Dead Zone meaning one of those places made famous by Verizon Wireless ads. Jesus said to them, “A prophet has little honor in his hometown,…” Jesus wasn’t able to do much of anything there. (Mark 6:4 The Message – my underscore). No miracles, no deeds of God’s power, nope… not much of anything could happen there.
Sounds a lot like our Town Hall meetings on health Care reform, doesn’t it?
Mark’s Gospel account of this meeting leaves much to the imagination. What did Jesus say? Why did it turn so ugly so fast? Why wasn’t God’s power of transformation effective in this environment?
I suspect the Dead Zone effect had something to do with the challenging nature of biblical wisdom (“how did he get so wise…?”) and the very nature of the God’s transformative power.
Jesus drew from a deep tradition of wisdom that challenged the faithful to change the way they lived their lives, how they related to God and to each other. Check these sayings out from Mark 2:21-25: “When you’re celebrating a wedding, you don’t skimp on the cake and wine. You feast. Fast later.” (5:19) “You don’t put new wine in cracked bottles” (5:21) “The Sabbath was made to serve us, we weren’t made to serve the Sabbath.” Whow! Profound! But did he just call us cracked bottles? With sayings like these and others he challenged people’s everyday lives and their privileges for the good of the whole.
And if you look at God’s deeds of power demonstrated by Jesus just before he got to Nazareth, they were about issues of health care (woman with a long-term issue of bleeding, and a suicidal man who couldn’t shake a “demon”) and community (both were marginalized by the community for the illnesses they struggled to overcome).
Both Wisdom and God’s deeds of power are about change. And you know how much we love change. Hah!
Is there hope for Health Care Reform today? I think so. If you listen closely you can pick out wisdom spoken. And it’s not just from one party. If you can get people out of their party-line rigidity for a moment you can hear lines like, “The health of the many should not feed the wealth of the few” or “A faithful nation does not provide the best health care in the world for only those who can afford it.” What I haven’t heard, however are statements like, “the last will be first and the first will be last.” Maybe that’s on reserve for only the most serious of Christian faithfuls. One wisdom saying I’m still looking for is something like, “Listen first, count to 10. THEN talk if you have something to say.”
Jesus lived his life for, risked and gave his life for, God’s deeds of power – transformation through women’s health, mental health, seniors and children – all of which redeemed the humanity of those who were lost, lonely, or cast away…
No more Dead Zones, please.