Sermon Date: January 23th, 2022
By Pastor Elaine Boone
“May the words from my lips and the meditations of our hearts always be pleasing to you O God.”
What does it mean when Jesus tells the people in the Synagogue that the scripture has been fulfilled - today - here - now - in your presence?
The author of Luke was writing in the late 80’s and had the benefit of hearing the stories of Jesus interpreted by others. Luke chose to put this story of Jesus teaching in the synagogue at the beginning of his ministry. We have heard the story of the baptism and the temptation in the wilderness and now Jesus has returned home. Home to Nazareth. Home to teach in a synagogue filled with people he knew - and people who knew him and his family.
Jesus chose to read from the scroll of Isaiah - from the scroll of the prophet. In Jesus’ time few people could read and reading in the synagogue - teaching in the synagogue took practice. Jesus unrolled the scroll and found the place he was looking for. But the text was small, there was no punctuation or capitalization. And the reading was all done aloud - in community. The scriptures were not read silently or alone - they were proclaimed - in public - and interpreted in the same way.
Luke implies that Jesus selected this scripture reading - that it was not just assigned to him.
If Jesus selected this reading - in his hometown, in the local synagogue filled with people he knew and who knew him - there must have been a reason. He could have just read anything from anywhere. But he chose Isaiah 61:1-2.
Jesus read what we might call his mission statement. Jesus is going to bring good news to everyone of God’s children who is bound up, pressed down, broken in spirit, impoverished, imprisoned and desperately hungry for good news.
Jesus chose this passage from Isaiah to announce who his is and what he is about. And its interesting that in Luke’s account of Jesus reading or teaching in the synagogue he leaves out a verse.
Jesus reads about bringing release to the captive, sight to the blind and freedom to the oppressed and good news….but he leaves out a verse.
The verse Jesus leaves out is a verse about vengeance. And this is deliberate - he did not just skip over something.
Jesus purpose or agenda or mission statement has no place for vengeance. Jesus’ focus was on bringing healing and justice.
The Holy Spirit has “annointed” Jesus to bring good news to the poor, along with release, healing, freedom and justice.
And Jesus says - today the scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing. Today - there is a sense of urgency. Jesus’ public ministry starts now. Not in a few days or weeks or months or years - NOW - TODAY. There is no time to waste. No more waiting.
A question that often gets asked in times of creating or re-creating mission statements or when congregations look at visioning is “how are we doing as a Church?”
Its the wrong question.
The right question is “What are we doing for God?”
The Holy Spirit comes when we have something to do for God and a time to do it.
We are now at a time and a place where we need to look around our community and then back at ourselves.
How well does our mission statement align with that of Jesus’ that we heard today from the Gospel of Luke? What work do we want to do for God? What are we being called to do?
How can Jesus’ mission statement to bring good news to the poor, proclaim release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free…guide us into the future?
What do we want to be?
How do we ensure that our mission statement - our lived out reality meshes with Jesus’?
What do we want to do for God?
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