Maybe you remember the old TV show Mission: Impossible? The lead mission agent. Gets the information and then disseminates that information to the team so that everyone can join in the task to bring it to completion. Major difference though, the lead agent, is the message as well. So there is for us a need to get the mission in, get the mission straight, and then get the message out – to proclaim it.
Essentially, this is what Jesus does in the Gospel this week (Luke 4.14-21). He comes back to the Galilee and begins to go into the various places of worship, read the scriptures and actively proclaim among the people, that God is at work, fulfilling his promises to his people. In time, he goes home to Nazareth and they are happy to see him. The people cannot wait to go to the Synagogue on shabbat, to hear what Jesus has to say. After all Jesus has done all these great and wonderful things in these other places, so it should be extra special since he is here among us! He is invited to read, and the attendant brings him the Isaiah Scroll. Jesus opens it up to discover that it opens to a piece of Isaiah that he can use to define his ministry through the experience of his baptism. Here is what the Prophet Isaiah said,
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is on Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release from darkness to the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favour and the day of our God’s vengeance, to comfort all who mourn, to provide for those who grieve in Zion—to give them a crown of beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and a garment of praise in place of a spirit of despair. So, they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified. (Isaiah 61.1-3 NIV)
What can we learn out of this quote from Isaiah? Firstly, that God is God and there is no other besides him. Secondly, we know that God is in charge. He is the one who brings the anointing (blessing and empowerment) for ministry. He is the one who chooses his anointed and is the one who sends his anointed one to his people with and for a purpose. What is that purpose? To proclaim, to give and provide for those who are in need. The Good news that we are to share? God is visiting his people in the person of his son, Jesus and Jesus is redeeming God’s people.
What else can we learn? We are reminding that God’s word is living and active. The question is, “Can you dig it?” What God was doing then he is doing now. Here. In this place with this people. We are called to live for Christ that we might bring the kingdom into this place so that people can experience Christ and his people and that means.
Too often, too much of the Church has been willing to adopt the secular culture and ways of doing things. And too often the Church has been sounding and looking like a poor imitation of secular society which as left it struggling to get people to listen and pay attention. So instead of being relevant the Church becomes extraneous noise that the wider culture chooses to block out. What the Church needs to be doing is to draw attention to God and to ask society whether they are for God or not. After all, as John Wesley once put it, “When you set yourself on fire, people like to come and watch you burn.”
Why should we come to worship? Is it just to watch the preacher burn? Because Church is far more than just a group of like minded individuals who come together at 10:30 am on a Sunday morning to do something that the rest of the world does not want to do – experience God. The Church is so much more than an association. It is, as I was recently reminded, more than an organization, it is an organism. We come to this place because we desire and hope for an experience of the holy. We come to the sacred place to be in the presence of him who would rather die than live without us. We also come to be with one another. God has determined that I need you and for some reason, you need me. Together, we are the Body of Christ.
And each and all of us have something that we can do, something that we can offer to God and to each other – a gift, a skill, or a talent. How that can be used needs to be worked out by the parish leadership so that it can be used to benefit the life of the entire community to the maximum.
Remember a few simple things:
- · Ministry is done in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit – like Elijah.
- · Ministry is done for the reform of community not to act in opposition to it.
- · with God, the impossible just takes a little longer.
- · We bring the kingdom to people through living like Jesus.
- · We live as servants to the will and to the word of God to enable restoration and reconciliation.
This will help us to get the mission in, get it straight and get it done, in Jesus’ name.