Sunday, January 25, 2004

The best part about today

was the Gospel reading for today, from the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 4, verses 14-21:

"Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in the synagogues and was praised by everyone. When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: '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.' 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."

What a powerfully moving piece of scripture. Jesus was telling them who He was and why He came: He was (is) the Messiah, the anointed one of God, come to set us free from the oppression of our laws -- the ones we made, not God, and from the things we do and from the evil that is done to us from the world around us -- captivity, prejudice, hatred, fear, disease and infirmity, death. He is our Savior, our Redeemer, our Healer, our Deliverer.

He came to bring us grace. The year of the Lord's favor. Amen.

I can imagine the stunned faces in the synagogue.

The second-best part about today:

the New Testament reading, from Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 12, verses 12-27, where he tells us we are one body with many members, and in "one Spirit we were all baptized into one body -- Jews or Greeks, slaves or free -- and we were all made to drink of one Spirit..."

This just cries out against dividing people into groups of who are acceptable and who are not acceptable in the eyes of God. If we are neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, then neither are we straight or gay in His eyes, in the Kingdom of God. I really don't understand how any professed, praying Christian can have toward gays/lesbians the loathing I have seen on some faces and heard in some voices, even as these Christians profess to love them.

I think this part of the captivity from which Jesus came to free us.

We are all, in the communion of saints -- all believers, past present and future -- the body of Christ.

Thanks be to God.

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