As you travel along the Sea of Galilee, you come to areas that once housed many small villages. Though it is mostly rolling hills, orange groves, tourist areas, or shrine churches now, in the time of Jesus this area was bustling with activity. However, these were not Jerusalem sized towns! They were villages that closely lived together and created a rhythm of community that worked for their population. Some of these villages that dotted the shores of the Sea would sound familiar to us today, such as Magdala (the home of Mary Magdalene). One of these towns was Jesus’s adopted home of Capernaum.
You might say, in our Methodist terms, that Jesus served a three year appointment in Capernaum. He performed many miracles there, taught in the synagogue, and lived among his disciples. This is where the story took place of the paralytic man, lowered by his friends from the roof to see Jesus and receive healing. This is also where Peter’s home was located. When you walk through the town, you are underwhelmed by its size, yet overwhelmed by its importance. The people of Capernaum were the most receptive to Jesus’s ministry.
This reminds me of our years spent doing ministry in rural Georgia. These years were some of the richest and most meaningful times in our young family’s life together. The majority of our South Georgia Conference is Capernaum-like towns dotting the countryside. In these places you find faithful people and a receptivity to the message and work of the Gospel.
It is amazing what God will do within us, for us, and through us when we make ourselves available. It doesn’t matter how big or important we are or how many resources we have. All that matters is this: “Are we receptive to what God is doing?” I remember Bishop Looney saying once that there are small, healthy churches and big, sick churches. Regardless of how many souls fill the pews on Sunday, they are souls valued by God. And sometimes, those who are overlooked by others are picked by God for great things.
Out of this community, out of its small synagogue fellowship, Jesus sent forth leaders who would fill the world with the message of the Gospel. You might not feel especially important or you might feel small and insignificant. But God wants to employ you in the kingdom of God for the transformation of the world and the glory of the Most High. Open your gates, Capernaum, and let the Lord in!