Monday, August 26, 2019

Comments on Lectionary - Sept. 1

That Jesus would be healing comes at no surprise to any of us. Nor, is it surprising that Jesus is healing on the Sabbath. So, when the religious leaders complain about it, we're right there, aren't we?

Jesus was teaching on the Sabbath at one of the synagogues. This is Luke's Gospel and this is how Jesus ministry starts, remember? Jesus returns to his own home town and his home synagogue. Here is where he grew up and learned the Hebrew language and how to read and study scripture. Here were family and friends. We don't know if Jesus goes reluctantly or not. Luke just says that he goes home.

Now, anyone knows that if you're going to launch out, you need to come by home on the way. Carlisle Marney, who taught many of us, said that someone had to rub your nose in the stuff that gave you birth. Well, maybe that's true for us, but for Jesus?

So, we can't really analyze Jesus to see what he's thinking, but we can understand that this home brings for him the same earthquakes that it does for us. Jesus is there on Sabbath day. Was he invited? Or, did he just drop in? Again, we don't know. Either way, Jesus turns out to be an intrusion of sorts.

Jesus takes up the passage from the scroll from Isaiah 61 and reads: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, release to the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." In Luke, Jesus is proclaiming the coming of the year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25). It's the time every 50 years when the prisoners are set free, all debt is canceled, and the land returned to its original owners. When?

Well, it's never actually been practiced, we say, as if this relieves us of the mission to do these things. Jesus is the fulfillment of all this and more. When? Jesus says: "Today this is fulfilled. Today." As you hear it being read, it's done.

John the Baptist from jail sent his disciples to ask Jesus: "Are you the one or should we look for another?" Jesus says: "Wherever I go, the deaf hear, the lame walk, the blind see, and the poor have the Good News preached to them."

It's the Jubilee Year, the year of the Lord's favor. Jesus is there in synagogue on Sabbath. We don't know whether he preached this time. But, there was a woman there with a great need. For many years, she has been bent over. She can't stand up straight. And, Jesus heals her. Right in front of God and everybody, Jesus heals her. Right there on the Sabbath Day, Jesus says: "Stand up straight!"

The religious leaders chastised him for healing on the Sabbath. "There are six days to do good...why now? on the Sabbath?" Jesus says: "You feed your animals and care for them on the Sabbath. If one gets out on the Sabbath, you round them up. Why not this sister?"

There are always good reasons for not doing good. Some of them are perfectly Biblical and right, according to the law. But, Jesus, never one to be stopped from doing the will of God, goes ahead. What if this kind of madness broke out in all our churches? What if, rather than saying all the reasons that we can't do good and heal and redeem, we just did it? What if Jesus is roaming about now in our sanctuaries even now looking for those who are open to his healing power?

She was bent over. Bent over with sin? Bent over with disease or sickness? Bent over with hatred? We don't know why she's bent over and maybe it's good we don't know. That way we can put ourselves in the story, and bent over ourselves we can hear the words spoken to us: "Straighten up! Stand up Straight!" You are healed. It's just the kind of thing that Jesus does.

Dave Nichols

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Comments on Lectionary - Sept. 1

That Jesus would be healing comes at no surprise to any of us. Nor, is it surprising that Jesus is healing on the Sabbath. So, when the re...