27 January 2019
You choose which with your choices and actions
Grace or Greed?
Jesus: “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
Quite the claim,
so familiar with it so we accept it
but the fulfillment of this good news is … well unbelievably good!
This has been sought, wished and prayed for through the generations for millennia.
in Isaiah 61,
while the people are in exile
“61The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
to bind up the broken-hearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and release to the prisoners;
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
3 to provide for those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a garland instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.
4 They shall build up the ancient ruins,
they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations.
First the year of the Lord’s favour:
never happened, an ideal that all debts would be reset to zero, everyone gets a fresh start.
Isaiah’s Word of Promise
The first verse though was wonderfully said,
good news to the oppressed, bind up the brokenhearted, liberty for the captives!
also never realized.
The second verse turns a huge dark corner: vengeance on God’s enemies hope not to be in that number!
followed by great deliverances: from mourning, sadness, praise instead of faint of spirit,
and the ruins of the homeland through generations will be repaired, restored to their glory.
All of this, the restoration of home and a return home, the turning of mourning to gladness, a fresh start for everyone, and liberty for the captives, aid for the broken-hearted, oppressed get good news.
All this because God has anointed the prophet to proclaim these.
Yet they never happened, not all of them, and only a few partially, momentarily fulfilled.
This Jesus picks up on: proclaims these same words of great hope and deliverance,
The people of his day also hoped for deliverance, from Roman’s oppression, and from each other’s oppressive dealings.
The marked difference is Jesus says: This is fulfilled in their hearing, today!
That’s quite some statement.
No evidence that it was fulfilled then,
Still not fulfilled today.
Stories of not fulfilled today.
Poor receive very little if any good news, the blind stay blind, the captives are still in jail if not killed, oppressed not only not freed, their numbers multiple every year.
So what’s up?
Ezra: account of worship for returned exiles:
worship: good and healthy, or controlled
Great experiences of good healthy worship:
music that reverberates in one’s soul, renews even one’s body,
sermons that speak volumes of God’s love for all, and for me,
liturgy that regularizes the basics of God’s stance to us: Grace
and regularizes our relationship with God, fully dependent on forgiveness
and regularizes our relationships with others (because God is as God is with us): Grace, Light, Forgiveness, (greatest gift) Love!
My favourite: children times where the children have loads of fun playing in [the yuckier, messier – yet with meaning brought out of it], and it all getting more or less cleaned up without a hitch; and the adults who pay attention hear that salvation is a gift, therefore we can be gifts of grace to each other
Bad Worship Experiences
healing services that victimized anyone who claimed they needed healing,
those offering blessings and prayers who had no empathy, who in other settings played power games to ensure their positions in the church.
Haugian Pietist congregation where this one quite elderly man came in to ‘bless’ me just prior to each service. Less blessing than a manner to control who I was, what I preached and not, and how he sought to ‘take credit’ for anything good that God accomplished in worship. When I gracefully pointed out that God blessed me already, that he was disrupting my own worship preparations and last minute communications with other worship leaders, and that another time would be more appropriate, he disappeared, replaced with another who told me at every meeting that they were going to get rid of me. Their gaslighting worked its wonders and my body physically failed me at a meeting not long after that. The heartburn felt like it was going to drop me to the floor. I needed out, I got out, walked for miles, false accusations were made against me against which no one can defend themselves and the bishop came to facilitate my exit. Not quite a blessed experience, rather quite cursed.
that never mentioned God once
or that drove home that we needed to earn our salvation
or that had the depth of mud puddles on pavement, offering only that ‘love was the answer’ and ‘what would Jesus do’ which meant the preacher could tell us all what we should do, by ascribing to Jesus that behaviour in our situations.
[Fill in your own experiences of Religion and Worship as Control, instead of Grace.]
Gifts, Members: all for all
Variety of Gifts: good for one and for all,
great variety of members, but still all one body.
Not hang with those only like yourselves, but you are part of a whole collection of great variety.
Stick together, work to work together, love each other’s differences.
Fulfilled in your hearing, today
Still a matter of waiting. Hoping, Promises, giving generously
Faith is hardly a destination account of life: rather it is a way of proceeding on one’s way:
Jesus: fulfilled today in your hearing … and yet not.
The promise so powerfully said: rejected, and with threats of violence! Jesus is run out of Nazareth, his home town.
For us today: how will we choose to see each day:
as an opportunity to control others
as an opportunity to help others experience God’s Grace?
Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing!
If we hear, comprehend, internalize the promise and live as people of hope,
instead of cynics or controlling shallow-faith people, then
as we give good news to the poor, help release the captives, give sight to the blind, set the oppressed free and give everyone we can a year of God’s favour,
in our deeds,
these words will be fulfilled today,