Our January 23 Sunday worship service is available on video through Facebook. You may view it without being a member of Facebook. We are excited to say that our Sunday 8 & 10:30 am services are open again for in-person worship. Services will continue to be streamed online.
The January 30 Sunday worship service will be held with in-person attendance. We have returned to regular in-person worship services. With an upturn in county COVID cases, we recommend masks even for those who are vaccinated.
We are glad to share our worship with you. Click on “Contact Us” above to find out more about our faith family and what we believe.
Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10 | Psalm 19
1 Corinthians 12:12-31a | Luke 4:14-21
The Luke text today is continuing the theme of last week, Jesus beginning his public ministry. Last week, it was the Wedding at Cana story in John’s Gospel, and he begrudgingly performed his “first miracle,” at the behest of his mother. And, he made the comment, “My time is not yet come.” Today, in Luke, it would seem that his time has come. “Jesus filled with the power of the Spirit.” He is now ready. In the Greek text, there is further indication that he is ready, he is charged, literally. The Greek text has a more impressive meaning. “Filled with the power of the Spirit” means that the power is emanating from Jesus. He is full to overflowing with the Spirit. He is the source of the power. It is coming out of him like light and heat from a flame. It comes from him. Evidently, that was apparent from those around him because, “a report about him spread through all the surrounding country.” The word was now out. His time had come! And, he was “praised by everyone.” Perhaps, “The Messiah, the Christ, is here!”?
First, he goes to Galilee, starts his ministry, “He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.” In English, that is how we translate it, so it reads like he just began. But that isn’t quite so. Greek has two forms of the past tense to say something, several languages do. English doesn’t. The aorist tense means something which happened in the past, and happened only once. Then, there is the imperfect. That means something which started in the past, and continues to happen. That is how Luke (who being Greek himself, knew very well which words and grammar to use) describes this. Jesus began teaching, and didn’t stop. It was a continuous action. Jesus didn’t really stop teaching, ever. From this point on, indeed, until the end of the Gospel (or even into our present time), Jesus doesn’t stop teaching. In that sense, with today’s Gospel lesson, we have the beginning and the end of Jesus’ ministry. That is one way in which all things are fulfilled in him.
So, Jesus goes home – to his home town of Nazareth, where he was raised, grew up, and was nurtured. There, as was now his custom, he enters the synagogue on the Sabbath. The report that went out about him seems to have preceded him. The people have gathered to hear what he has to say. Here he is, a hometown boy made good, now a rabbi, maybe a prophet, a local superstar, perhaps even, dare we hope, the Messiah! As the visiting teacher/rabbi, he takes part in the worship service. Synagogues had lay leaders, who then would speak about the text which they read, more in the form of a commentary than a sermon. There is nothing unusual about what Jesus does, reading a lesson from Isaiah (once he finds it, there were no “chapters and verses” then). What is unusual is the response he gives.
“Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” What does that mean? “I am it.” He is the one upon whom the Spirit of the Lord is upon. The Spirit is not resting upon him, as it did for the prophet Isaiah when he wrote these words. No. The Spirit is coming from Jesus himself; he is the source. He is God’s light in the world. He is the glory of God come to earth. He is THE authority. And, he comes with a mission!
He is the one bringing “good news to the poor, release to the captives (literally, in Isaiah, it means prisoners of war), sight to the blind, freedom to the oppressed, and proclaiming the “appointed” time of God’s favor. That is his mission, and now, as his disciples, ours to declare and carry it on. He is the fulfillment of those words. We are now the bearers of that message. We carry it with us. As the power of the Spirit comes from Christ, we are the bearers of that same Spirit. As the Spirit descended upon Christ at his baptism, we receive the same Spirit. As we follow him, we share that same good news. It cannot help but come from us as we follow in faith. For, it was in that same faith and same Spirit which we were baptized into Christ, and empowers us to carry out that same mission.
It may take many forms. St. Paul today lists numerous gifts of the Spirit. But it is the same Spirit. And Paul himself says that it is an incomplete list. All disciples of Christ are given spiritual gifts, and they are for a purpose. They too, fulfill Isaiah’s words. They are given for the good of all. They are for bearing of the good news of Christ, of God’s appointed time of favor. That is what the Church is about! We reflect God’s love in Christ to all of the world.
How do we do that? What is your gift, or gifts? Teaching? Helping? Leading? Deeds of power? Perhaps we may believe that we have no gifts of the Spirit. If so, we are wrong. They need to be discerned and perceived. For it is in using those gifts together, that we are the Body of Christ. Every Christian is indispensable to the body of Christ as St. Paul describes it in the Epistle lesson today. Together, we are the servants of Christ, carrying out his good news of forgiveness of sins to all people, and reconciling the world to God and itself in preparing for the coming Kingdom of God – as we all now, and will continue to be, in the sharing of God’s grace through His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.