Then Jesus came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. As was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath. And when He stood up to read, the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. Unrolling it, He found the place where it was written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on Me,
because He has anointed Me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent Me to proclaim deliverance to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Then He rolled up the scroll, returned it to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on Him, and He began by saying, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
All spoke well of Him and marveled at the gracious words that came from His lips. “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?” they asked.
Jesus said to them, “Surely you will quote this proverb to Me: ‘Physician, heal yourself! Do here in Your hometown what we have heard that You did in Capernaum.’”
Then He added, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in his hometown. But I tell you truthfully that there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and great famine swept over all the land. yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to the widow of Zarephath in Sidon. And there were many lepersg in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet. Yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.”
On hearing this, all the people in the synagogue were enraged. They got up, drove Him out of the town, and led Him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw Him over the cliff. But Jesus passed through the crowd and went on His way.
This is how much authoritarian religion hates freedom.
This is how much authoritarian religion hates inclusion.
The first time Jesus spoke about it in the synagogue, they tried to kill him.
Let's not be surprised, then, when authoritarian religion today hates our freedom and our inclusion just as much.
One of the arguments I quickly hear after a post like my previous one is this: "But Jesus did talk about sin!"
Yes, and look at what kind of sin he talked about: the sins of the powerful against the weak, the marginalized, the suffering, the poor.
The sin of placing burdens on the backs of others that the powerful themselves are not willing to bear.
I'll say it again: until authoritarian religion is willing to hold its priests and preachers and presidents to the same standards as it requires of the suffering, authoritarian religion needs to sit down and shut up.
Sell all its goods and give the money away to the poor.
Sit in the dust and mourn for a thousand years, then call us back and we can talk.
Don't worry: I know people would like to throw me off a cliff for that, and I know I'm in good company.
My son Matt told me that he's shocked that I'm writing so much right now.
Honestly, I am too.
It made me wonder: why am I writing about authoritarian religion while grieving the death of my daughter?
I think it's as simple as this:
I am so endless grateful to be well and truly out of the clutches of authoritarian religion at this time in my life.
I cannot imagine bearing this grief while hauling the horrible ball and chain of authoritarian religion along with me.
I had to do that earlier in life, and it made everything so much worse.
The heresy of "sinners in the hands of an angry God," the fear of hell, the anxiety of never being able to do enough or be enough to satisfy the perfection required of me--all of that made my life a living hell until I slowly, slowly, slowly course-corrected to Love.
I bless every bit of the broken road that prepared me to walk thorugh this terrible, present pain without fear, knowing for sure that Love wins.
I had just come to a place of great peace and freedom, last fall, after many years of hard, hard spiritual and emotional work.
And thank God, thank God, thank God that I had.
That's why I write these particular words at this time for you, my friend.
You need to know that you are loved and safe and chosen.
You don't need to drag the lies of authoritarian religion with you any further down your road.
You've been set free for freedom, and never again to be a slave to anything.
Love has us all safe, abundant, and free.
We know this for sure.
Let us walk in that light while it is day, and let it light our darkness when the darkness comes.