In Our Hearing - Reflections 1-23-19

Texts for Sunday, January 27, 2019
Third Sunday after Epiphany


Nehemiah 8:1-10
Psalm 19
1 Cor. 12:12-31
Luke 4:14-21


This Gospel text is one of the first times in the Gospel of Luke that we, the reader/hearer, get to hear Jesus speaking publicly. Verse 15 says that he was teaching in synagogues and people seemed to appreciate it, but we don’t get to actually hear him until this moment in Nazareth, his home town. So, for us, this serves as his inaugural address. And it sounds like he is sharing his “mission” statement for his ministry, and maybe, claiming his identity in history (after all, the Spirit of the Lord was indeed upon him in his baptism). 

These words he reads from Isaiah actually come from a couple of places in the book – Isaiah 61:1-2 and 58:6, and they point to the message of Leviticus 25:8-12 about the year of Jubilee*

Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.

The crowd was sitting forward expectantly. Home town boy became famous. Wait. What? The crowd, who knew Jesus when he was just an ordinary kid running around the town, did not expect this. But we’ll save more of their reaction for next week.

Right now, I want to just take in what he said. 

A deep chasm of longing has opened in my soul. This world really needs good news and release and recovery. Poverty, captivity, blindness, oppression in the form of division, hatred, hunger, trafficking, violence, murder, racism, disaster, climate change.

What about today? 

Scripture reaches backward and forward, past, present, future. That’s one of the cool things about eternity. It is. This moment and always.  Ancient words of hope in the far distant past of Isaiah’s time resound through Jesus’ coming. And our current events echo these ancient words.

Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.

Wait. What? 

Yes, I’m looking at you. Taking a very sharp turn to Sunday's text from 1 Corinthians, there is something very interesting. “Now you are the body of Christ”, it says. That is the plural you. “You” means all of us. We are at this moment the body of Christ. This scripture has been fulfilled in our presence as Christ in this world. If we are the body of Christ, we’ve inherited this mission statement. 

One more thing though, remember that Jesus took this mission to the cross. Or perhaps more accurately, the mission took Jesus to the cross. What does that mean for Christ’s body today?

Our Epiphany question: 
How is God revealed through this story?

How or where do you see yourself in fulfilling this scripture?

* Jubilee was an economic policy in the codes of ancient Israel which canceled debts and returned property to original owners that had been forfeited in unpaid debts. Other ancient civilizations had similar “clean slate” decrees. But it is unknown how well, or even if, that policy worked.
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Written by Pam Larabee-Zierath


Gathered by Grace, Scattered for Service
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