Sunday, 27 January 2019

Good News

“And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”" (Luke 4)

It's a bit sad. This, the earliest sermon in Jesus' ministry that we're told about. One sentence and, in this version of the English Bible, only nine words long.

Gives congregations a whole unrealistic expectation, I mean. Every preacher knows there's at least one member of the congregation who'll be checking their watch after 3 minutes. Shaking it after 10. Cross -checking with their neighbours' watches after 15. Pointing at a calendar after 20.

And it's important to note that Luke only tells us he "began to say". I expect there were hours more. Just because Luke doesn't tell us that Jesus name-checked six theologians the congregation hadn't heard of doesn't mean he didn't. Just because Luke doesn't record Jesus harking back to a pop song from 50 years ago to prove he was down with the kids, doesn't mean it didn't happen.  We likewise have no evidence that Jesus didn't reference a TV programme nobody else had watched, or give a particularly  clever explanation of the meaning of a word in Hebrew that he actually got wrong because he hadn't really understood the context.

All these things may have happened.

What we do know is this - that this sermon was grounded. He was in Nazareth, where he grew  up. Maybe Mary, maybe Joseph, maybe his brothers and sisters were there. The young men he'd grown up with. They knew who he was, where he came from.  What he said was going to have to be real.

 And we know it was scriptural. He  based his sermon on Isa 61. A passage about God restoring his favour to the people. A passage about freedom. About release from captivity - physical, spiritual, political.  About justice.

And we know it was about him, and about God's purposes, and about the Spirit of God. "You know the way  God said he was  going to act," says Jesus " - well. That's through me. "

Now we all preach. Some stand in pulpits and  some  wander round the nave because it's trendy  and some just talk about God to their friends. And if we take Jesus's lead, we'll preach about the power of the Spirit. We'll talk about the Father's  purposes and promises. We'll talk about justice.  We'll ground it in the Scripture, and in our own lives.

And we'll make sure it's all about Jesus.

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