January 23, 2022
WELCOME AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
Let me remind you quickly of our protocols for everyone’s safety.
· Attendance was taken by Ushers as you entered.
· masks are required by Session, as well as social distancing
bulletins are placed in the pews to help with social distancing
· Offerings may be placed in the plate by the doors.
· Please write your prayer request on the Yellow cards. An usher will pick them up during the 1st hymn.
· Please join us after service for fellowship will be continuing with beverages only, in Calvin Hall
Gary Iverson, Bob Bock, Joan Boyd, Wanda Hirl, Marilyn Neymeyer, Joan Pinkston, Maxine Wagner, Annette Conzett, Jo Lefleur, Dr Dyke, Bonnie and Jon Pillers, Mike Niles, Harlan Marx ,Tom Kelly, Lois Seger, Jon Ryner, Lucy Melvin. Bob Emmert, Abagail Niles, Helanah Niles, Rich Lewis, Kay Werner, Amanda Walston and Arlene Pawlik
*WORDS OF WORSHIP (Unison) “Praise the Lord, all you nations! Extoll Him, all you peoples! For great is His steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord!” (Psalm 117)
*GATHERING PRAYER (Unison) I will bless the lord at all times, his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad. O magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt his name together. Amen (Psalm 34:1-3)
*HYMN Joyful, Joyful, we adore thee” #464
CONFESSION AND PARDON ((Unison) Creator of the universe, we stand amazed at Your power and glory. Honestly, we prefer You to be far above us, at a distance and not too close. We are glad to worship You and offer our praise, but we are reluctant to answer when we hear You speaking to us. We sing songs of praise and love in worship, but we shy away from listening for fear of what You may ask us to do. Forgive us. Forgive us when we keep You at arm’s length, safely boxed up in our definition of You. Forgive us when we forget Your claim on us, and Your promise to be with us always. O God, renew us with the power of Your ever-present love, and strengthen us to proclaim Your love throughout the world. Amen.
ASSURANCE OF PARDON ((Pastor) As far as the east is from the west, so far has God removed our sins from us. Because of God’s love and mercy we can confidently say, (People) we are forgiven people. Thanks be to God, Amen.
PASSING OF THE PEACE
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION (Pastor) May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in Your sight O God my strength and redeemer. Amen
SCRIPTURE LESSON Luke 4:14-21
14 Then Jesus returned to Galilee, filled with the Holy Spirit’s power. Reports about him spread quickly through the whole region. 15 He taught regularly in their synagogues and was praised by everyone. 16 When he came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures. 17 The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, 19 and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.” 20 He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. 21 Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”
Sermon Title this scripture has been fulfilled
Our reading for today is really the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry in Luke. In the verses just before this, Jesus was alone in the wilderness being tempted by the Devil. After he had resisted all the temptations, he set his face toward Galilee and was ready to announce to the world what it was he was going to do among the people as he proclaimed the gospel to all the people.
After he left the wilderness, Luke says, “a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone” we don’t know where he went, we have no records of what he said and we do not know if he performed any miracles during this time. What we do know is, he was becoming well known. When he entered a new town, he would present himself to the local synagogue and was accepted as a visiting preacher. Because he was beginning to be well known he was usually invited to read the lesson of the day and comment on it. We have to keep in mind that, in that time, there were no pastors as we understand the term. The synagogues were run by a group of men but they did not serve as a session, they were respected by the synagogue and chosen to be the leaders of the synagogue. in many churches today, someone might read the scripture before the sermon, here when it was time for worship this group would ask someone to read the lesson of the day and make some comments on it.
When Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue as was his custom. It is simple sounding thing but, there is more to this than it may appear. After I had been ordained, whenever I went back home to see my mother, somehow word would get to the church that I was going to be in the area and, someone from the church would call me and ask if I would be willing to preach since I was going to be there. I had been preaching for a while and my stage nerves were pretty much under control but preaching at the “home church” would always bring them back in full force. These were the people who knew me when I was a “smart-alec” kid. These were the people who knew some of the antics I had gotten into years ago. It is not an easy thing to preach to the people who knew you before you became a pastor and I am sure Jesus felt some of the same feelings.
When the synagogue leaders saw Jesus, they had already heard about his mounting fame. People from all over the area had been spreading word about how he had spoken and the impact some of the things he said had affected people. They immediately asked him to be the worship leader that day. Again, we need to remember there were no pastors as such in that time. Any man from the congregation could be asked to read the lesson of the day and then speak upon what that passage meant to them. Jesus was handed the scroll from Isaiah and it was up to him to select the lesson he wanted to read and then make any comments he wanted to make about the verses he had just read.
The selection he read was where Isaiah was proclaiming what had happened to him as he was beginning to fulfill the role of prophet. He was proclaiming what he, as a prophet had been called to do. When Jesus began to read these words, the people immediately recognized them as being familiar. They settled in and awaited to hear what Jesus was going to say about these things.
Because the Torah was a sacred book, the person who read from it stood as a sign of respect and reverence. When Jesus read from the scroll, he stood honoring that tradition. When he finished the reading, he handed the scroll to the attendant and sat. that was what teachers did. They proclaimed themselves not to be above their listeners but sat among them. The audience waited in anticipation and Jesus said, “today, this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing”. The scripture you have heard so many times, the scripture you revere, is no longer a word from the past, it is no longer a prediction, what you have heard so many times is now a reality. This is the role I am called to fulfill among you. It is a reality from this minute forward.
What Jesus is really doing is proclaiming to the people what sort of messiah he was going to be. He was giving them the vision he was going to follow as he went about them. It was not what they expected. The common understanding among the Jews was that when the Messiah came, he was going to restore Israel to its former greatness. The vision the people had was the golden time of King David when Israel was a nation to contend with rather than the captured kingdom it now was. The peace, wealth and respect the nations had for Israel was going to be restored. This was the common image among the people of what the mssiah was going to be. What Jesus was saying was something quite different and was hard for the people to hear.
When a politician begins to run for office, they develop a platform, a series of things they will accomplish if the people elect them to office. It is their contract with the people and the thing by which they ask the people to judge them while they are serving. Here, in this statement from Isaiah Jesus is telling the people the things he holds important while he is performing his ministry. He is, in effect, telling the people what his platform will be. He is, at the same time, telling the people the things they will be challenged to do if they follow him. If they choose to be his disciples these are the things they will need to incorporate into their lives. We are going to look at these claims and see the ways Jesus plays them out and, at the same time, see the ways we are fulfilling those same claims.
He begins by stating, “the spirit of the lord is upon me”. All the prophets of old acknowledged they were set aside in a special way. They were marked by God as special people. The things they said and the things they did were not of their own making. They were established by the power of God to proclaim the things God wanted said to His people. The prophets were saying that something larger than themselves was in charge of their lives and they were merely following what God had laid out for them. When Jesus said the spirit of the lord was upon him, he was saying the same thing. He was not a mere man, he was one who had been marked by god in a special way. His words and his actions were not merely his, they were guided by the spirit which had been laid upon him.
When we become truly aware of what it means to be part of the church, we begin to understand we are not our own masters. We understand we are the children of God and, because of that, we are set aside as special people. We are called to act differently than others, we are called to speak differently. We are now called to be guided by the things God has given us to do as we try to be faithful to that call. We ask the spirit of God to be upon us so we can work to fulfill the things God has told his people to do. We may not have said those words, but we have asked the spirit of God to be upon us so we can be the light to the world.
Jesus continued, “he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor”. As Jesus performed his ministry he seems to pay special attention to the poor, a part of the population that easily gets overlooked. Again and again, he stresses how difficult it is not to let the possessions we have get in the way of the things that are truly important. Again and again he makes it clear the judgements of God do not depend on the wealth or position in society one has but God’s judgement is based on the way a person attempts to adhere to the things God has declared are important. By doing this Jesus if urging his followers to see the people we all tend to overlook. Again and again, he reminds people God sees and loves those who are on the edge of society.
In every age and in every country where there is a Christian presence, there are many expressions of concern for the poor. From homeless shelters, to food pantries, to medical concerns to schools where fees may make it difficult for parents to send their children to school the church has managed to find ways to minister to
those who are deprived of these things because of the lack of money. In Morrison, the churches have bonded together to form a food pantry. Each congregation donates based on their membership to provide the funds to keep the pantry functioning and each church takes a turn in stocking the shelves and helping distribute the food. Here, in Clinton, there is the victory center, a faith-based group that provides both shelter and food to those who are in need. It too is supported by some of the congregations in the area so those who have needs can be served. Concern for the poor is acted out in many different ways but it is something most congregations share in doing in one way or another.
Next, Jesus proclaimed, “Recovery of sight to the blind.” Jesus restored the sight of at least two blind men in his ministry. This brought special attention to him because, of all the great miracles the prophets of the Old Testament performed, none of them restored sight to a blind person. When Jesus did this, therefore, people noticed immediately. Clearly, he was in a different category than those of the past. If Jesus was able to do something no other prophet had done, he must be special in some way. They probably began to pay more attention to the things he said and did. Not only did he give sight to the blind some of the things he said about God, about forgiveness, about the way you are called to treat those who are different also gave people a new vision about themselves and some of the things they had always thought were true.
There are many Christian organizations that sponsor mobile cataract surgery clinics that are sent to many places around the world where this sort of service is not easily available. These teams will go for 2-3 weeks performing as many as 30 surgeries each day and also giving the patients the follow up they need. This is a literal way in which many churches give sight to the blind. In addition to that, there are other types of blindness the church deals with as well. When you look at the leadership of the civil rights movements of the ‘60s, you will see many church leaders you will find name after name that comes from the church. As these leaders withstood the blast of fire hoses, the beatings of police and the attack of dogs, our society watched on the evening news and slowly began to see the injustices this movement was protesting against. More recently the “black lives matter” movements have forced us as a society to see that, while we have made some progress, society began to see there were things that needed to be done. more recently, the “black lives there are still things that need to be done. as we see the disparity among people of color and the impact of the covid spread, we again have to train our eyes to see that things are not where they should be in a country that is supposed to stress equality for all people. Because some are, as the late John Lewis said, “Making trouble, making good trouble, makig necessary trouble” we are seeing more and more clearly the places where we need to make stronger and stronger efforts to achieve that equality.
Next on his agenda, Jesus said, “he has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives. Now, to be honest, Jesus never freed anyone from captivity in slavery nor did he free anyone from captivity in prison. Nevertheless, the things he said and did freed many people. The captives of which he speaks are of a different category. Jesus cast out deamons which freed people from a captivity of one sort. Jesus healed lepers freeing them from the isolation they were forced to endure because of the disease they had. Jesus pronounced many people free from the captivity of sin by which they were with people who were captive to a wide variety of issues and every time he encountered one person like that, he set about to bring them freedom.
There are countless churches across our country that sponsor homeless shelters for abused women so they are no longer captive to abuse. There are countless churches who sponsor AA groups or NA groups where people can come together and deal with the forces that hold them captive. These groups exist because the church wants to fulfill the demand to release the captives. Many of the famous hospitals across our country owe their existence to some church. When the hospital was formed, it was because some church saw the need to help free people from the bondage of illness. The hospital may have long ago dropped the name of the group that started it, but when you look into the history, you will find the beginning because of some church or denomination that saw a need. Each of these groups is continuing to work to free people from a bondage of some sort because some church or group of churches wanted to bring freedom to people who were being held captive.
In conclusion Jesus said, “today, this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” No more were these words only a part of history, from that moment on, they were a reality. No more were they the words of an ancient prophet, from that moment on they were the things Jesus was going to be demonstrating as he went across the countryside. No more was the emphasis going to be on restoring the greatness of the land of Israel, from that moment on, the emphasis was going to be on the poor, the outcast, the captive, the blind. What Jesus was proclaiming was a change in the way people looked at one another. To change our focus from the rich and powerful and look, instead, on those who were in need, those who were sometimes overlooked.
Whether we sponsor a food pantry or we give to support a food pantry, we are dealing with those who are hungry. The action we take will not put an end to hunger, we all know that but by doing what we can to feed those within our reach we are helping to fulfill the call of Jesus to care for those who are hungry. When we support an AA group or a NA group, we are ministering to those who are captive. We know when we do this, we will not end the problem. Nevertheless, because we are ministering to those who have needs, we are helping to fulfill the challenge to release the captives. We will not end the problem, but by playing a part in the work that needs to be done we are helping to fulfill the challenge Jesus left us.
*Hymn “Be thou my vision ” #339
*AFFIRMATION OF FAITH Apostle’s Creed (Ecumenical) p. 14
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary,
Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven,
He is seated on the right hand of the Father,
And he will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
*The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name,
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil:
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
forever." -- Amen.
*Hymn Lord, dismiss us with Thy blessing # 538
*CHARGE & BLESSING
(Pastor) Go into the world in peace, render to no person evil for evil but render good for evil. Seek Justice, love mercy and walk humbly before God. Receive the blessings of God the father, God the son, and God the Holy spirit now and always. Amen,