Third Sunday after Epiphany - Luke 4:14-21


“Today,” said the angel, “in the city of David, the Messiah has been born.” And the shepherds rushed to be the first to meet Jesus, and went away glorifying God for all they have seen and heard. “Today,” Jesus said to Zacheus, “I will have dinner at your home.” And Zacheus, the despised tax collector, knew a love he’d never known before. “Today,” Jesus said to the thief on the cross, “you will be with me in paradise.” And that thief received a new gift of peace as his life ended. Throughout the book of Luke, the word “today” points to moments of radical grace. That’s how Jesus used the word in the synagogue in Nazareth, his home town. Jesus unrolled the scroll of the prophet Isaiah, and read, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Then he rolled up the scroll and sat down. And when he had all their attention, he said, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” The people in Nazareth weren’t expecting such a radical, life-changing word that day in the synagogue. Father Gerry Pierse describes their experience this way: “The audience found it comforting to hear Jesus read that a Savior, a Messiah, would come to bring good news to the poor … to proclaim liberty to the captives … to give sight to the blind and to set the down-trodden free … some day in the distant future. A lovely thought. Something to look forward to … no demands for now … but then they were taken aback when Jesus put down the book and said, “This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.” “This caused a stir because Jesus was saying that what you hope for is not in the distant future. It’s already here. It is here and it is now.” Perhaps some of us can recognize ourselves in such a situation. It is easy for us to get caught up in thinking – someday, I’ll get it all together and everything will work more smoothly. Someday, I’ll have more time for those hobbies I’d like to do – for those friends I’d like to see – for the prayer time I’ve always wanted but never find time for. Someday, I’ll be able to give more – to help out more – to have more time for myself. Or maybe some of us have just the opposite dilemma. It’s too easy to look back at the good old days, to remember how wonderful it was when we were young – when the kids were small – when I had that job or lived in that house. Churches can get stuck in looking back, at the way things used to be, and we can get caught up as Christians in thinking, sure, those things happened in the Bible – people back then heard God speak and saw miracles – but that was a long time ago. Yesterday can look glorious. Tomorrow can look so glamorous. But today – today is just ordinary. Today is just another day – just a part of the routine – nothing special. For all of us, Jesus has these words: “Today, the scripture is fulfilled in your hearing. Today, the savior forgives your sins and releases you from bondage to them. Today, the savior brings good news for the poor, the blind, the captive – for those whose lives are bound by addiction, by violence, by loneliness and depression, by broken relationships and lost dreams. Today, Jesus invites his followers to become a part of the healing and freeing of his world. This morning LCOS is celebrating 20 years of ministry as a congregation in Santa Fe. And we are in the midst of transition, coming out of a period of conflict, anticipating the arrival of  a new permanent pastor. It would be an easy time to fall into one of two ditches – We can try to live in the past, in memories of the “good old days,” when the enthusiasm for a new mission was running high. We can also try to live in the future, putting everything off until the new person comes – until there’s more money – until we grow. I’ve been impressed to see very little of either kind of thinking here at LCOS. The council this past Sunday considered a new social ministry initiative and prepared to revive ministries LCOS has been part of in the past. Two adult education opportunities are going strong. The music program is thriving under new leadership. I believe this congregation is ready to respond to the call of the Spirit, to be servants of Christ in this community – Today. Today, the Spirit of the Lord is among us, to offer release, and hope, and new life. Jesus is here with us as we gather to worship in word and song – to receive him in the bread and in the wine. Jesus is here to fill us and hold us and go out with us from this place, into our ordinary, daily lives – our workplaces, our families, our schools – so that we, too, might bring the good news of God to all who are in bondage in our broken world. Hear the words Jesus speaks to you this morning: Today, I have come to forgive you and free you from that which binds you. Today, I am here to heal you and give you peace. Today, my spirit fills you and gives you strength to live as my children in the world, shining my light in the dark places. Go in peace, and know that I am with you always.” Thanks be to God! Amen.  Lutheran Church of the Servant, Santa Fe, NM                January 21, 2007 Sunrise photo taken in South Padre, TX

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