Epiphany #3…Series C
Saint Andrew’s EC (January 26&27th, 2019)
Text: Luke 4:14-21
Title: The Final WORD…TODAY!
According to the author of the Gospel of Luke, the very first PUBLIC word recorded in the Gospel was TODAY! Now, it is certainly true that, earlier in the Gospel, Jesus spoke to his parents (Mary and Joseph) after they found him in the Temple talking theology with the Elders, “Why were you searching for me…didn’t you know that I must be about my Father’s business”. And, earlier in chapter four Jesus spoke to Diablos (the Devil) who was tempting him in the wilderness…but these were PRIVATE words. But, according to the Evangelist Luke, Jesus’ first public word was TODAY:TODAY THIS SCRIPTURE HAS BEEN FULFILLED IN YOUR HEARING!
So, let me try to put these first public words of Jesus into their proper context. Still wet from his Baptism in the Jordan River, Jesus was “driven’ by the Holy Spirit into the Judean wilderness where he spent 40 days praying and fasting, and where he was seriously and significantly tempted by the Devil/Satan/the Evil One. And now, he returns to Nazareth…his home-town, the place where he grew up to officially launch his public ministry. And on Saturday (the Sabbath Day…the 7thday of the week) Jesus goes to the synagogue (as was his custom) to worship and to pray. And the Elders of the synagogue (the Junior and Senior Warden) honor Jesus by asking him to read one of the lessons assigned for the day. Luke tells us that Jesus was handed the large Isaiah scroll, he stood up, turned to the place where it was written: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because the Lord has anointed me to preach Good News to the poor; to proclaim release to the captives; Recovery of sight to the blind; to set at liberty those who are oppressed and to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord’s favor” . When he finished the reading, he gave the scroll back to the attendant, sat down and, with the eyes of every member of the congregation squarely focused on him, he preached what may be the shortest sermon in the history of the Christian Church (one sentence…9 words)…TODAY, THIS SCRIPTURE HAS BEEN FULFIULLED IN YOUR HEARING!!
TODAY…it is a very appropriate word to use to launch a ministry, or, as is the case for me today, to bring to a completion, my ministry as your Rector, because, when you think about it, TODAY is really all that we have. Yesterday is gone (it exists only in our memory) and Tomorrow is still a dream. TODAY…right now…this present moment is really all that we have! We will follow Christ or we won’t TODAY…We will love our neighbor or we won’t TODAY…We will worship God or we won’t TODAY…We will be the Body of Christ…the arms and hands and feet of Jesus, making his love known in the world, or we won’t TODAY! TODAY…not in some distant and long forgotten YESTERDAY, or some vague and ambiguous TOMORROW, but TODAY:TODAY THIS SCRIPTURE HAS BEEN FULFILLED IN YOUR HEARING!
TODAY…it was Jesus’ first public word spoken in the synagogue in Nazareth and recorded in Luke’s Gospel. TODAY: it may be the most radical word…the most challenging Word that Jesus ever spoke…TODAY: I am convinced that this IS God’s Word for us on this important day in the life of this congregation. TODAYwe must begin again to be the Church of Jesus Christ…TODAY, puts us squarely in the middle of the sacred drama, reminding us that Christ is still counting on us and that He has no body in the world today except our bodies. TODAY,we begin again to fulfill our sacred calling to continue Christ’s Mission of Mercy in a bruised and broken world. Yesterday is over and done and tomorrow is a dream yet to be realized, but TODAY…TODAY is real and it is all that we have, and TODAY, by the grace of God the Father and in the power of God the Holy Spirit, we begin again to make the love of God real for ourselves and for this hurting world that God loves and came to redeem and to save…
TODAY THIS SCRIPTURE HAS BEEN FULFILLED IN YOUR HEARING!