Rev. Dr. Jan Gregory-Charpentier
Kingston Congregational Church
July 4, 2021
“Is this not the carpenter?”
Have you ever had this experience? You’re rummaging through your utensil drawer or your desk drawer, looking for a specific object―a can opener, a pencil sharpener―you know it’s there but you just can’t find it, until (voila!) there it is, right in front of you, and you realize you didn’t see it at first because in your memory the handle was yellow but in actuality the handle is blue, and in your search for a yellow-handled can opener, you completely missed your blue handled can opener right there at your fingertips. Psychologists who study perception call that “a search image.” In our mind’s eye we’re looking for something specific and fail to see it because our “search image” was incorrect. Sometimes what we think we know (the can opener has a yellow handle) isn’t accurate. We got the part of the story right: there’s a can opener in this drawer! But we didn’t get the full story right: the can opener has a blue handle, not yellow.
I bring up that rather silly and small example of misperception because I think it relates to bigger and more important experiences in our lives, and it relates to our gospel story this morning, the story of Jesus, after having stilled the storm on the Sea of Galilee, after having healed the wild man living among the tombs across the sea, after having come back and healed the ailing woman and the dying little girl, goes home and can’t, according to Mark, do any deeds of power there. Jesus says, “A prophet is not without honor except in their hometown.” When Jesus went home, all the residents of Nazareth could see was “little Jesus,” Mary’s son, the carpenter lad, James’ and Simon’s brother. Sometimes what we think we know, prevents us from seeing the full story being told right in front of us and thereby missing out on a greater truth, maybe even standing in the way of greater deeds of power. Jesus was a healer of great renown, a miracle worker, and a wisdom teacher; but to those back home he was “just one of us,” and while that was true, it wasn’t the whole truth. What they thought they knew, wasn’t the full story. They failed to see the fullness of Jesus, and, sadly, they failed to experience the fullness of God’s love and power, right there in front of them, (voila!), at their fingertips…