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Saint Theodore's Episcopal Church

A Short Sermon

This Sunday’s Gospel lesson is a dream for most parishioners and a bit of nightmare for priests.

Essentially, Jesus lays the foundation for the one line sermon; creating an unfair expectation for us preachers and giving reason for every complaint about long sermons ever levied. *“Why can’t you preach like Jesus? - quick”

In one short sentence, Jesus says little, but at the same time says everything. “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

In these 9 words we hear Jesus’ purpose. We hear The Good News. We hear what God intends to do, to give, to the whole world.

Now, it has become quite the American thing to do to know and to clarify our identities, our purposes, our goals.

As I am sure you are aware there are a great number of books, essays, or conventions that will help you figure out who you are and what your purpose is. There are even people who make a living by helping you figure these things out - or as I like to tease - they will tell you what to do with your life; they call themselves “Life Coaches”.

When we hear Jesus read from the prophecy of Isaiah it is clear what Jesus is saying his purpose is. The Good News that is fulfilled in the hearing is that Jesus has come to liberate the oppressed, free the captives, give hope to the poor and oppressed, and return sight to the blind. (He obviously missed the refs in the Saints - Rams game last Sunday.)

But seriously, I think what Luke is showing us is that Jesus is concerned with the questions,  “Who needs compassion and attention?” “Who needs mercy and healing?” This is Jesus’ purpose - to seek those the world has put aside, to give hope to those who have had it taken away, to show the world that God is not concerned with wealth and power or greed and self promotion. God has come into the world to create a new narrative, a new way of life.

Now, of course, we are all the poor, we are all captives, we are all blind, and all oppressed in some way or another.

Translation - we are all in need of Jesus’ Good News - the hope, the compassion, the forgiveness, the life changing mercy that is God’s way. But it also means that we are to spread that which we have been so graciously given.

The fulfillment is not complete until WE realize that in Jesus each and every person in this world has been freed from slavery, liberated from oppression, been cared for, been shown mercy, been loved, been given equality, and shown the hope of God’s life-giving love.

If these are the purposes of Jesus’s ministry and life on earth then surely the purpose or mission of the Church follows it. Surely we who proclaim Jesus as Lord and Savior - we who are believers - followers of way of Christ are called to act in the same manner.

This place, this community of the “Body of Christ” is called to do works of mercy, love, and justice in the world around us.

In order to live up to the standard that Jesus set in his brief homily - I have tried to be brief as well. But each of us has another standard to live up to.

That is to figure out Who among us - who around us - is in need of compassion and attention? Who needs God’s Good News? How are we going to go about sharing Christ’s purpose in this place and the world around us?

Amen.

Photo by Alexei Scutari on Unsplash

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