“As was his custom” caught my eye in Luke 4:16 as I read verses 14-21. Having traveled internationally, I think of customs first as the tax that is paid for bringing certain goods into a country. I am a bit embarrassed to see I added an “s” to custom and my mind went to taxes! But now that I made that mistake, I am challenged to ponder if some of us treat going to church similar to going through customs at the airport, checking if we have anything to declare (hoping they don’t open the bag), paying, thus fulfilling our legal responsibility – to God. I go to church or synagogue on Sabbath because it is my custom, my habit, what I do on Sunday to orient myself for the week, more like a charm for blessing than a thirst for relationship. “Custom” can also be “custom made”, that is fitting the order of the person requesting. Perhaps my “custom” is to go through “customs” seeking a “custom made” solution for my present plight in life. Hmm.
But the real point is that Jesus had a custom, a habit of going to synagogue and in fact, after the baptism, had returned north to Galilee and taught in synagogues and was praised. He was carpenter now turned preacher. Something happened in Jerusalem that deeply impacted his life and led to a change in life style. He had been baptized and tried in the dessert. Faith changes my life. I no longer go through “customs” as a required step to clear the airport, but I add a “custom” to my life of centering myself, seeking relationship and worshipping on Sunday – regardless of how good the sermon is. I pray when I go to church, others will describe me “as was her custom.” Having a “custom made” encounter with God is a “custom” I cherish. As July 4th approaches, may we never let this freedom be a routine habit but a dynamic encounter with the Holy. Blessings!