Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’
Luke 4:21b (NIV)
Father God, help us not to miss the sense of urgency in Jesus’ words, that the Gospel message is not a message of yesterday or tomorrow, but for today.
We welcome our preacher this morning who is Rev Richard Sharples
After service tea hosts Keith and Myra
Organist: Joan McGowan
Sunday 31st January
11.00am Rev Marian Jones
Vestry Stewards – Elizabeth and Ian
Door Steward – Warren
Tea Hosts – Warren and Vera
Mon 25th Every Day with Jesus Bible Study in Lounge 10.30am
Wed 27th Midweek Communion at Regent Street 11.15am
Wed 27th Bible Fellowship at Avril William’s home 7.30pm
Wed 27th Joint Prayer Fellowship with Presbyterians here 7.15pm
Wed 27th “Time Out” a monthly reflective worship at Hope Parish Church 7.30pm (4th Wed in the month)
Thu 28th Prayer Course at Wrexham 7.30pm – 9.00pm
Mon 8th Marriage Course at Regent Street 6.00pm Booking essential – £40. Contact Richard Sharples
Please pray for the following:
All those who care for those in need.
We thank God for answered prayer and ask that he helps us to understand that all things do work together for good.
There will be a concert here given by John and Angie Evans on Thu 18th Feb 7.30pm, tickets £5.
John and Angie have done a number of concerts for us before and they have been well received. John is Director of Music at Hoole Methodist Church and has gained a reputation for performing a more varied and easy-listening assortment of music than you would ordinarily anticipate hearing on the organ, but his programme will also include the more traditional organ items in his repertoire.
Angie, who as a contralto, also appears with local choirs, and together they take part in many fundraising concerts each year.
It is a riveting scene painted for us in Luke’s Gospel today, this one of Jesus returning to his home town and preaching in the synagogue. Something extraordinary is happening here — so much so that his listeners can’t take their eyes off him.
You and I who know the story of Jesus from beginning to end know that the mission outlined here is one that captures all that Jesus did in…
“Bringing good news to the poor, proclaiming release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, letting the oppressed go free, and proclaiming the year of the Lord’s favour.”
And one can understand why it is that those gathered were amazed by what he said. I imagine, by now, that they have come to hear these words of the prophet Isaiah as either metaphor or the contents of an unfulfilled wish-dream. One no longer expected them to really come true, if that was ever so. Indeed, I imagine we hear them in the same way today.
And perhaps, if we are honest, there is also this. As we hear in the verses which follow, Jesus’ first listeners actually found themselves threatened by these words, even as we might find ourselves today. For we who are not necessarily poor, or captive, or blind, or oppressed, or in debt beyond redemption? Well, our status or our economic security may actually depend on things being as they have always been. And there is no believing that this hometown boy is speaking in mere metaphor. Not once he sits down and speaks a word of promise or threat, depending on one’s perspective. Not once he says so simply, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Today is the day it all comes true.
Protocol and procedure and other seemingly more pressing priorities take precedence all the time. Too often, history and dashed hopes for the future sidetrack our efforts. Fear and despair, or, if we are honest, perhaps our innate selfish desire to protect our own interests have us lending a deaf ear to what Jesus offers as he reads these ancient words and speaks his own clarity about what they mean for his own life. Indeed, if nothing else, while we may hear and even seek to embrace his intent, too often we miss the sense of urgency in Jesus’ words. For what we hear today is that his is not meant for tomorrow. This is for today. Today.
And so I wonder now how my days would change if I simply treated every day as the today we hear about now. And I do wonder if it would change not just for me but for the world if one day at a time, today our individual and collective energies were directed to that for which Jesus gave his life:
Bringing good news to the poor.
Proclaiming release to the captives
Bringing sight and renewed vision where darkness has prevailed for far too long.
Letting the oppressed go free.
And releasing from debt those whose redemption never seemed possible.
I wonder what would happen if I were to remember today that the Gospel is for saving lives and only and always for saving lives.
I wonder what would happen if I began each and every day with these pressing needs on my heart, however and wherever and whenever they are experienced in the world.
Oh yes, I do wonder how things would change if we simply tacked the word “Today” to the front of all of our mission statements. As Jesus did. And then lived like it was so.
And I wonder if even my fears of losing what I have had would simply fade away as I became caught up in such a mission that matters every day.
Rev Dr Janet H Hunt, First Lutheran, DeKalb, Illinois, USA