Our reading from Luke ends at verse 21. If we had read the rest of the chapter we would have learned that Jesus’ inaugural sermon got him into a bit of trouble. Thankfully I don’t have to worry about being driven to the brow of a hill and thrown off a cliff since there aren’t any in Spring.
Filled with the power of the Spirit, Jesus stands in the temple and reads from Isaiah [Luke 4:18-21, (Isaiah 1:17, Isaiah 58:6-8, Isaiah 61:1-2)]
‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’
And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. I think I knew how he felt about now.
Then he began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’
The Spirit of the Lord is upon you too – it began with your baptism. You were baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit; the priest prayed that you would be sustained by the Holy Spirit, and at your anointing, you were sealed by the Holy Spirit in Baptism.
Do you feel the Power of the Spirit?
Merely hearing the Good News isn’t enough.
If we accept the Gospel as our story, do we really receive it and let it transform us? Use our anointing to bring Good News? Receive it in its fullness, in all that it entails and become the Good News?
Emptying ourselves and surrendering so that the Spirit of the Lord can fill us?
Because there’s a difference between Knowing about Jesus and knowing Jesus, of receiving the Good News and being Good News.
The Good News does no good unless we let it change us, inspire us to live into who and what God calls us to be. Hearing the Gospel and letting it rest on us like a warm, comfy blanket isn’t what Jesus had in mind. When he announces “today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing,” he is saying it is time. Waiting for later is over. Now, we change the world. Now, we show who God is and what God can do. Now, we give the world a glimpse of God’s community.
Because of our baptism we have already entered into that community, into big C Church.
Our Community as people of God means we go to church, but more importantly it means we are the Church. We’ve become “beings in relationship,” the Body of Christ, through the Holy Spirit. It means that our individuality is co-joined with God to extend beyond who we are into a communal and mutual ministry.
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free, inside the loop or outside the loop, and some people would say Aggie or Longhorn — and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. [1 Corinthians 12:12-14]
Our lives are lives of interdependence – God and us – us and our fellow humanity - all are necessary and all are needed for God’s community.
If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together with it. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. [1 Corinthians 12:26-27]
Henri Nouwen writes about Paul’s “Pattern of body of Christ – Paul describes what happens when we are brought into relationship with Jesus Christ by faith as a community in which everyone’s gifts are set free for the service of others. It is not only that the least or apparently most useless has the dignity of possessing a gift and a purpose; it’s also that everyone is able to give to others, to have the dignity of being a giver, of being important to someone else. Everyone is engaged in building up everyone else’s human life and dignity. It is both an unselfish approach, concerned that human and non-human world should be not just what I want it to be but what God has designed it to be, and a self-interested one to the degree that I recognize that I cannot be what God designs me to be without the life of others also developing according to God’s plan.”
God has placed his Holy Spirit upon you for the purpose of God’s plan, His work in the world. It is the same Spirit that descended upon Christ. Christ bestows it upon the Church to do God’s work. We don’t get to do it on our own and we don’t get to belong only. Belonging to the body of Christ also means participation, to care for one another and to share in God’s work.
What is God’s work? – love, justice and healing,
to bring good news to the poor,
to proclaim release to the captives and
recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.
We live in a post-Enlightenment illusion that our individuality is paramount, separating ourselves. We hide in our homes with “good neighbor” fences which I find ironic. We’ve built systems and technology to keep ourselves isolated. Confused that somehow, we are “to do it on our own” or if not, we appear weak or vulnerable.
If you remember from Mark, Jesus doesn’t send the disciples out alone, he sends them in pairs [Mark 6:7] We are called to be the Gospel, the Good News together, in community.
Jesus tells us, for when two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them [Matthew 18:20] When we minister together, it is easier for people to recognize that we do not come in our own name, but in the name of the Lord Jesus who sent us. It is Jesus who heals, not I; Jesus who speaks words of truth, not I; Jesus who is Lord, not I.
And there are those people – the ones who don’t deserve or shouldn’t belong because they aren’t the “right” people. In God’s community, there aren’t any wrong people.
I love music. I love jazz ensembles and symphonies. I think they embody what God meant for us. I love to listen but I also love watching the musicians. Each instrument has its part and the musicians watch for and listen to each other. They make sure that the composition is heard through the instruments rather than the instruments instead of the composition.
God’s love, justice and healing is the composition. God’s intention for humanity is wholeness. It started in the Garden of Eden and continues through Jesus by the Holy Spirit, and redemption by His resurrection. The Good News is the resurrected Christ but it is also that as the body of Christ our shared ministry is love, justice and healing.
Jesus’ call to love and live justly didn’t end with his first sermon in his home synagogue. Before his arrest he tells his disciples that their place in the kingdom will be determined by what they have done.
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited to me.” [Matthew 25:35]
Accepting and receiving the Good News is giving ourselves over to God to enter into a new relationship - with God in community, sharing the Spirit within the body of Christ. To help the world hear and see God’s composition – love, justice and healing. Jesus has shown us the way. His words and his ministry are models for us all.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon you too! So be the Good News! Bless and Go
Bless – to give, forgive, teach, and heal
Go - to witness to the love, justice, and truth of God
As the Body of Christ, help transform the world. So we live as God intended, “beings in relationship,” co-joined with God into a communal and mutual ministry of love, justice and healing.
The Holy Spirit sustains you and Jesus has given the Way.