I am Kirsten Patterson; I am your Director of Children, Youth and Family Ministries.
I direct Sunday School, Family Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, Breakfast club, Confirmation, High School ministries, our great team of 6 staff and other things.
But, I am nervous.
Give me a room full of 8th graders… or 3-year-olds. I am fine.
You? I am nervous.
I visited the Martin Luther exhibit at the MIA last week. I was reminded of the Theological precept of the priesthood of all believers, that we are ALL priests; we do not need special hands or special education. I realized again that I can preach, and with study, I can give translation and exposition to this text.
This Bible story today is about Jesus’ first sermon.
It just so happens that THIS is my 1st sermon here.
- Went to his home town
- He read scripture
- He gave a translation and exposition of the text
- Sat down.
- And was run out of town
Maybe I am not nervous about you; maybe I am nervous about this text!
His first sermon? One line, 5 seconds tops
“Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
That is it. One sentence. Mic drop.
Jesus’ sermon was: “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
What again was this scripture that Jesus said that he has fulfilled?
From Isaiah, it says:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight to the blind, to set the oppressed free,”
What about me?
- I’m not poor
- I’m not a prisoner
- I’m not blind.
- I am only a little bit oppressed
Let’s look at this scripture:
The Spirit of the Lord has anointed him to bring good news to the poor.
- He has come to bring good new to those who are poor, who have nothing, whose lives are little but bad news.
- Good news to those feel that feel that no one cares about them, that no one is concerned about them
- To give us a sense of worth that has nothing to do with bank accounts or status
The Spirit of the Lord has anointed him to release the captives
- To free the addicts from the needle, the bottle, and the cell phone
- To remove the feeling of worthlessness
- To bring rest to sleep-deprived new parents
- To give a sense of belonging to the alienated
- To forgive the sinner
The Spirit of the Lord has anointed him to bring sight to the blind.
- To allow us to see who we really are
- To glimpse the image of God in ourselves and others
- To see that the Kingdom of God is at hand.
- To show us what it looks like to love what God loves
- To allow us to see ourselves as God sees us.
The Spirit of the Lord has sent Jesus to bring freedom to the oppressed, the over worked, the under-appreciated, the last chosen, the unlovely, the despised and unseen, the overly-proud, the parts of ourselves that are so small.
It IS about me.
I would like to read the scripture again, this time from the children’s storybook Bible.
“Jesus went to synagogues, holy places where people worshipped, to teach people about God. He went to synagogues all over – even his hometown, Nazareth.
Jesus told the people, “I was sent to tell you that God loves you and poor people and sick people and people in prison.” But the people didn’t believe Jesus’ words. “Why are you talking about sick people and poor people and people in prison? Everyone knows that God doesn’t care about them,” they said.
“I am here to show you that God’s way is love for all people!” said Jesus.
The people began to grumble. Their grumbling grew to shouting. Their shouting turned to shoving. Their shoving turned to chasing Jesus out of the synagogues. “Go away, Jesus!”
Jesus went away from there, but he kept on telling people and showing people about God’s love.”
Why the anger of the people, the rage?
Maybe, they wanted him for themselves. Maybe they wanted a hometown hero to brag about. Maybe they wanted the exclusive rights to own whatever he was or would become. Jesus’ message said, “I am for all people everywhere.”
The people in the Synagogue read the Scriptures as promises of God’s exclusive covenant with them, a covenant that involved promises of deliverance from their oppressors. Jesus came announcing deliverance, but it was not a national deliverance but God’s promise of liberation for all the poor and oppressed regardless of nationality, gender, race or status.
Jesus is not a hometown hero – he is for all people.
Sometimes we want exclusive rights. Sometimes we say “This is mine. You can’t play with it.” We have clubs to keep some others out. We are better, finer, whatever than others. God’s grace is never subject to limitations and boundaries. Those who would exclude others thereby exclude themselves.
If we were not in the Lutheran tradition here – someone about now would yell – Amen Sister!
Jesus’ message of freedom from guilt, from shame, from sin, from addiction, from the thought process that either you are the best person who ever lived, or from believing you are nothing.
He gives us eyes to see that it is not the end of your nose that is important but the view of eternity, of life always and forever which he gives us through the cross, through his death, and through his resurrection.
As Ben said last week: “We are part of God’s great Salvation project to love and redeem the world.”
We are instruments of God’s grace for others. We are, all of us – the priesthood of all believers. In Jesus’ spirit, we are, you are the agents of freedom and healing in a hurt and broken world.
What do we do?
Jesus tells us over and over and over, and it is not easy to – Love God, Love others.
Let us all say the charge, the benediction that the children have learned:
Go now to Love and serve the Lord
Go now to Love and serve each other
Go now to Love and serve the Lord.