When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but they did not receive him, because his face was set towards Jerusalem. When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, ‘Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?’ But he turned and rebuked them. Then they went on to another village.
I wonder how the conversation went between the disciples and the people in the Samaritan village? The Messiah is coming you say? Whose Messiah? Is he staying long? Oh – Jerusalem you say? – well he can’t be our Messiah, he’s going the wrong way.
For Samaritans, Jerusalem was not their sacred city – they believed the most important, holiest place, was Mount Gerizim. The disciples, with their passion and faith in Jesus, had expected the Samaritans to welcome them with open arms perhaps?
It’s very easy when you are passionate about something, to expect others to feel the same – but unless it is relevant to them, they simply won’t. We spend long hours wondering how to take the message of Jesus to those who know nothing of Him, and, like the disciples, are we surprised at their indifference?
The disciples were hurt and angry that the village had been unwelcoming and perhaps sought to emulate Elijah in having it consumed by fire – but Jesus told them no. Indeed; what would that have said about the followers of Jesus that when they are not welcomed, they need to punish, to have their revenge?
Unless we live out our faith and help others to see the relevance of it to them, through the difference it makes to our lives, then the welcome we receive will be predictable!
Loving God, grant us patience, that we might see how to share your grace with others and build communities of love wherever we are. Amen
Ann Honey, Church Related Community Worker at Robert Stewart Memorial URC in Fenham