A city truck pulled to a stop on a quiet, residential street. A workman armed with pick and shovel jumped from the truck and set to work. With great effort he dug a large, wide hole between the curb and sidewalk. Then a second man got out of the truck, filled in the entire hole and tamped down the dirt. That was their same pattern all the way down the block – one carefully digging holes to just the right width and depth, the other filling in each hole and tamping the dirt down to just the right height.
“What in the world are you doing?” inquired a woman watching all this from her front porch. “We are a city beautification team,” they replied. “Beautification?” the woman inquired. “I don't see what's so beautiful about a long row of filled-in holes!” “Well, you see,” said the worker, “We normally work in threes, but the man who plants the trees is out sick today.”
God is great! And God wants our lives to be great and full too. That's why we were made, as the Bible says, “in God's own image and likeness.” But breaking out into the largess of life is no easy task. Many things stand in our way – dumb ideas the we cling to for dear life, fears that we hold on to as if they were best friends, crazy actions that make no more sense than digging holes and filling them right up again. The thing is, God knows everything there is to know about us and God still loves us!
Wow! God not only knows all this, but by becoming one of us when born at Bethlehem, God shows us how to break free of whatever is trapping us into tiny, cramped, little lives. Yes we want to live free from our fears and doubts. We want to enjoy the full, abundant life that God offers us. But far too often, just as we're about to break through, our fears return and we pull back.
That's what we see happening in today's Gospel of Luke. At first the people are delighted by listening to Jesus. But then their doubts and fears shut down their initial delight and they turn on Jesus. The amazing reality that Jesus offers them is quickly dismissed, and in their anger they drive Jesus and the hope he offers out of town. These people were unwilling to leave their comfort zone of mediocrity and engage the kind of world Jesus was offering them.
The price of this great, full life to which you and I are called is always high but always within our grasp. We must dismiss our old fears, our going-nowhere habits. We must knock down old walls of bigotry, unlock old rooms, open windows, stretch ourselves beyond the comfortable and reach out in forgiveness and compassion to the people we meet.
Now that's a lot more than any human can do alone, but we're not alone. It is Jesus who calls us to this larger, fuller life. It is Jesus who walks alongside us each step of the journey. And it is Jesus who guarantees success. Do we place enough trust in our relationship with Jesus to do this? Really, do we?