Historians have given names to certain periods in American history. Those periods include the American Revolutionary War, the Westward Expansion, the Civil War, Reconstruction, The Great Depression, and the years during and after the First and Second World Wars.

There was also a time called the Era of Good Feelings. That is the name given a brief period some 200 years ago when James Monroe was president of the United States. It was a time when partisan politics seemed to be put aside, the economy was doing well, the nation was expanding in size, and Americans were proud they had been victorious over the British in the War of 1812.

This Sunday, as we celebrate July 4 and mark 245 years since the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, it does not seem as if we are in an era of good feelings – just the opposite. We are in a time in our nation’s history when many Americans seem to take personal offense at individuals whose ideas, beliefs, values, and opinions do not match their own.

Today’s social media has amplified those bad feelings. It has become a way for persons not only to express their views, but to attack and disparage those individuals whom they find offensive. It seems people are all too ready to write off persons they judge to be in the opposing camp.

In this Sunday’s Gospel (Mark 6:1-6), we read of people taking offense at Jesus.

Jesus comes to his hometown of Nazareth. At first those listening to his words in the synagogue are impressed by his teaching, wisdom, and mighty deeds.

But soon their feelings of admiration fade away as questions and perhaps feelings of envy and suspicion fill their minds. Who was Jesus to be standing before them? He was no learned rabbi, no recognized prophet, no member of the religious establishment.

They asked, “Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? Are not his sisters here with us.” Because Jesus did not fit their expectations of a prophet “they took offense at him.” They rejected him and as a result “he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people.”

That day in Nazareth good feelings turned into bad feelings. Eventually those bad feelings would increase and lead to the cross, for Jesus did not turn out to be the kind of earthly messiah the people expected.

Even though the people of Nazareth rejected Jesus, he did not write them off as being beyond redemption.

Perhaps this Gospel, coming as it does on July 4, can remind us that while we can disagree with others, and even find their views offensive, we are not to consider them outside of God’s care. Nor are we to deny them the respect and civility they deserve as our fellow Americans.

If we behaved that way, we would not only be acting as true Christians, we would also be contributing some needed good feelings to this period in our nation’s history.

© 2021 Rev. Thomas B. Iwanowski