Sunday 27th January 9am Worship
Title: The Spirit of the Lord is upon … us
Bible Reading: Luke 4:14-21
Preacher: Phil Swain
The problem with having donuts last sermon is that there is a danger that you might feel a little deflated if you don’t get something special this week. Especially when you hear that I want to start this sermon by talking a little about the lectionary and an overview of the gospel of Luke. Sound exciting!!!
Each year, the Revised Common Lectionary encourages us to focus on a different gospel and this year the gospel is Luke. Even though I don’t always follow the lectionary readings, we will be hearing a fair bit from Luke this year so I thought it might be helpful to start with a 3-minute overview of Luke.
Video… Bible Project Luke
The important things in the video:
- Whereas Matthew, Mark and Luke were with Jesus … Luke wasn’t. So Luke is not writing first hand but rather talks with the eyewitness and brings them together to write “an orderly account”
- Luke was a doctor – and this come through with the amount of detail he includes in his gospel.
- Luke was a gentile and writes his gospel for a “non-Jewish” audience
- Luke continues into the Book of Acts, which is also written by Luke.
This context can sometimes be helpful when reading passages by Luke as it may give us great insight.
Our reading for today comes very early on in the gospel of Luke. So far in Luke we have had the Christmas story, a couple of verses about Jesus growing up, the preaching of John the Baptist – which flows into Jesus baptism and 40 days in the wilderness. So when we read in verse 14 of our bible reading, “Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit” … where was Jesus returning from? His time in the wilderness. So this really is the start of Jesus ministry. He has been baptised, blessed with the Holy Spirit, prepared in the wilderness … and then he returns to start what he has come to do. And what is this that Jesus has come to do? We are getting to this…
So, it’s the Sabbath day and Jesus goes to his local synagogue, his home church, and on this morning is given the honour to read from the scrolls. Now I did some research to try and find how this custom worked – and there seemed to be lots of different answers. But in general, synagogues didn’t have professional clergy so instead the local leader would usually ask someone to come and read from the scrolls. Two passages would be read – possibly by two different people – one from the Torah (which would have a set reading as it was custom to read the whole of the Torah from beginning to end then start again) and other from the Prophets (which it is generally accepted that the reader could choose their own passage).
This idea sort of matches our reading, Verse 16-17… Jesus stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written…
In my research I also found that often the local leader would ask the reader to comment or reflect on the reading. While the people knew the word of the bible (they had to memorise them at synagogue school) – most commentary would probably be rote recitation of lessons learned in synagogue school. The main question would be whether the reader would get it right. The suspense would be whether someone would have to correct the reader or not. So, Jesus gets to make a comment about the passage from Isaiah … but our reading said that he rolled up the scroll, gave it to the attendant, and sat down! No wonder the next line is, “the eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him.” Is Jesus going to say anything???
When Jesus spoke, he said “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Not what they were expecting. Jesus is basically saying that the prophecy has come true – the Messiah has come – that he is the Messiah.
Some people were amazed by the way Jesus spoke with authority, others were dubious because they knew Jesus as a kid, others were furious and dragged him out of the temple and wanted to toss him off a cliff! But Jesus walked through the crowd and on his way.
What a way to start his ministry! What was about these words that stirred things up so much and made people so polarised?
Well, let’s look at these words from Isaiah because in a sense these words was Jesus outlining his priorities as he starts his ministry… these words was Jesus mission statement.
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”
Three reflections points that I would like to draw out of this – a bit like the readers in the synagogue were allow to do…
1) Jesus doesn’t read the entire quote from Isaiah 61. Did you know that? He stop mid-sentence – which might be another reason why the listens were looking at his intently … maybe they were waiting for him to finish the sentence.
There is some debate over why Jesus might have done this. Did Luke just not write down the whole quote? Did Jesus purposely stop when he did? But I read one commentary that resonated with me. The second part of the sentence from Isaiah 61 is … “to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour and the day of vengeance of our God”. The commentator was saying that if these verses were his priorities that maybe Jesus was saying that his mission was much more about bringing good news and freedom and sight and release from oppression than it is about vengeance or judgement.
I quite like that. A bit like when Jesus said in John 3:17 (just after saying that God loves the world so much … “For God did not send his son into the world to be its judge but to be it’s savour!”
2) These verse show Jesus bias towards to poor, oppressed and the marginalised. Jesus was saying that his mission was to reach out to those whom the society has shunned. That is not to suggest that we can’t read these verses spiritually – that Jesus has come to bring good news to those who are poor in Spirit, to bring freedom to those trapped in sin, to help people see the glory of God clearly, to set those who are weighed down by darkness free and to proclaim that God grace has come. Yes – we can read these verses that way. But it is very clear that Jesus also meant this literally. Look at his ministry. He did bring good news to the poor. He brought sight to the blind. He truly did have a bias toward the marginalised.
So … what does this mean for us? If we follow in the way of Jesus – yes we need to make sure that the spiritually poor, oppressed and blind hear the good news and find freedom but I also think that if we don’t also have a heart for those that society has shunned and left behind – then we are not living out the priorities that Jesus had in his ministry.
3) And lastly … I just wanted to zoom in on the world “anointed”. The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to… I really like the concept of anointing. In the bible people were anointed with oil or the spirit when they were set apart for a particular purpose. You anointed kings when they took on the role. Prophets were anointed with the spirit. Even the craft people who worked on the temple furniture were anointed for their work. The idea is that certain people were set aside for a specific purpose. Jesus was anointed by the spirit at his baptism in Luke 3, and then in Luke 4 he says, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to…”
The trap with this idea is that sometimes we might start to think – oh, yes that makes sense … the spirit of the Lord is on them, they have been anointed to do those special things for God. But the spirit of the Lord is not on me. I am not anointed or set apart to do anything. Are you someone who things that … the spirit of the Lord is on THEM but not me?
Pentecost turned everything upside down. As God declared at Pentecost through the words of the prophet Joel said, “I will pour out my Spirit on all people.” We are all anointed. The spirit of the Lord is not only on me. The spirit of the Lord is on US because he has anointed US to … I can’t finish the sentence because our anointing is different. I have been anointed to be a pastor in congregational ministry so that I can help people know Jesus and grow in their relationship with God. That is my anointing. What is yours?
I had to pause at this point in my sermon prep because I didn’t want people to feel I was putting an expectation or pressure on you to commit to something or sign up for something today. The whole point of the spirit is that we can’t control the spirit, the spirit moves, and we need to be open to that. So , as we prepare for Vision Sunday next week, I do what us to have a short time of embracing that the Spirit of the Lord is indeed on us, and has anointing us … but maybe at this beginning of the year, we might just have an open mind to what that anointing might be for.
So, to finish this off, I am going to invite us to have a short time of reflection where we open ourselves up to the movement of the spirit. And I am going to have three different ways in which you can engage with this process.
Firstly, I want all of us to just stop and in our own hearts and minds … invite the spirit to move. The most simplest prayer that you can prayer for this is “Come Holy Spirit” If you want to be more game you might like to pray “Holy Spirit, open my eyes to see where you are moving, open my eyes to hear your prompts and open my heart to respond”.
After this prayer there are three opportunities.
- Sit and pray (prompting words on the screen)
- Commands / Directives from Jesus (back wall)
- Worship in 2019 (Night Church are doing this … and I was prompted by the spirit to do it hear as well)
Commands / Directives of Jesus
- Preach/Be Good News to the Poor (Luke 4:18)
- Proclaim Freedom to those who feel trapped. (Luke 4:18)
- Help people to see clearly again (Luke 4:18)
- Bring release to those who are oppressed. (Luke 4:18)
- Bring hope by sharing God’s grace/favour. (Luke 4:19)
- Turn/lead people back to God’s love. (Matthew 4:17)
- Invite people to walk in the way of Jesus / Follow Jesus (Matthew 4:19)
- Rejoice in all things / Worship (Matthew 5:11-12)
- Be an example of a Godly person / Christian role model to others (Matthew 5:17)
- Forgive others … even those who are hard to forgive. (Matthew 5:23-34)
- To go above and beyond in helping people or serving others (Matt 5:38-42)
- Seek first the Kingdom of God. Making God the top priority. (Matt 6:33 and Luke 9:23-25)
- Listen for the voice of God and to share that wisdom. (Matt 11:15)
- Be mentored by Jesus and be a mentor to others. (Matt 11:28-30)
- Pray … to ask in faith … to keep watch and pray. (Matt 21:21-22 and Matt 26:41)
- Reach out to those who are poor or marginalised in our society. (Luke 14:12-14)
- Reach out the little ones, children, youth etc. Bring them to Jesus. (Mark 10:13-16)
- Love others, Serve others (Matt 20:26-28 and Matt 22:37-39)
- Make disciples, help people grow in their discipleship (Matthew 28:19-20)
- Feed / tend to / care for the people of God – spiritually or practically. (John 21:15-16)
- Resource the mission with the resources, finances and other means I have been blessed with. (Luke 8:1-3)
- Lead the people of God in worship and praise. (Luke 19:37-40)
- Caring for those who are vulnerable (especially our seniors and those who are struggling) (Matt 25:40)
- Help the church community make wise or strategic decisions. (Matt 7:6 and Matt 10:16)
Worship in 2019
(What do you find helpful? What do you think we need to prioritise over the next 12 months?)
Scale from 1 – 7
- Drawing near to God – How well does 9am service help you connect with God in worship?
- Community – How well does 9am service meet your social needs – a place to belong and connect with other Christians?
- Teaching – How well does 9am service help you to grow in your faith and your understanding of God?
- Spiritual Growth – How well does 9am service encourage and nurture you in your daily walk with God
- Prayers – How well does 9am worship help you to pray?
- All-age engagement – How do you think the 9am worship helps all ages to engage with the worship service?
Bullseyes – Art we hitting the target?
- Service Time & Length. Do you like a 9 am start? Would you prefer 9.30am? Do you like the 75min length? Longer, Shorter?
- Do you like the style and songs? Ideas for variations in style? Ideas for new songs? Do you like use of other music – e.g. listening to CD song? What about the amount of music?(too much,just right,not enough)
- Do you like the preaching (sermon)? Style – more bible teaching; more relational stories or practical advice? Length? Discussion? What would you like more of? What would you like to see less of?
- Creative Services. Are the creative services (services that are not in the normal format such as Rachel Collis service, turratots service, communion around tables, etc) helpful? Would you like to see more of them? Less of them?
- Welcoming/morning tea. Do you find morning service welcoming? Do you feel like you belong? Do you enjoy the morning tea time after church? Ideas for helping people to get to know each other more?
- Is the 9am worship on target or not?