Preparing for Worship: Liberating Jesus

Preparing for Worship: Liberating Jesus

John Haralson   •   March 31, 2017


The Adoration of the Golden Calf
Nicolas Poussin, 1633-34
The National Gallery, London

"Contemplative prayer, as we use the term here, means paying attention to and becoming at least slightly absorbed in the person of Jesus....A contemplative attitude can develop from such prayer and, if it does, it allows one to find some ease and spontaneity in paying attention to God as revealed in Scripture, creation, one’s own life, and the life of the world, rather than seeing God simply as the background figure for one’s own concerns."
William Barry & William Connolly, The Practice of Spiritual Direction

Dear Friends,

It is possible to be have all the appearances of being a disciple of Jesus while at the same time being absolutely terrified of surrendering one’s autonomy to him. 

In Luke 4:42-44, Jesus leaves the town of Capernaum and goes out into the wilderness to pray. He is doing this to draw strength and wisdom from the Father as he prepares to head into the next town to continue the work given to him.

Jesus’ prayer time is interrupted by a group of people from Capernaum who track him down. This was a group of people who have been blessed by his ministry want him to come back to their town.

They want him to return because they have loved how he brought about healing and transformation to their lives. And, we can conclude that they probably enjoyed hearing his teaching in their synagogue. 

So, they sought to prevent Jesus from leaving them. To paraphrase Luke, these people were clinging to Jesus and didn’t want to let go.

The problem these people had is that they understood the scope of Jesus’ ministry only from the perspective of their blessing and healing. Their vision for the ministry of Jesus was only to them, their families, their “tribe”. 

If we are honest, we have the same tendency. We have a propensity to turn all good things, even the ministry of Jesus, inward and make the “self” (or, a tight little clique around us) the center of the universe.

Thankfully, Jesus always resists our efforts to control him. He is always lifting our eyes upward to the horizon and giving us a larger view of the world, one where he is powerfully and lovingly at the center. 

This week: Liberating Jesus, Luke 4:42-44.

Liturgy is here

I hope to worship with you.

Warmly in Christ,

John