God’s Mission Needs a Church

I found a box of letters from my father among my mother’s possessions. I doubt she kept them for the quality of my father’s prose nor for their content. None the less they were carefully stacked and most were tied with ribbons. My father had written them during his training and subsequent deployment to England during World War II. Yet they had been retained through multiple moves while other possessions had been discarded or sold.

My father had kept other items, none of which had any practical use decades later: the loan terms for purchasing my mother’s first sewing machine, records related to the purchase and sale of various houses we had long ago lived in. He did not keep every scrap of financial record, for I do not recall finding records about the various cars he had owned.

Had they been alive, I would have enjoyed talking with them about why they had kept these records when they had moved into their much smaller retirement home. I perceive that these letters and records were symbolic for them of their relationship, of the love that they had shared for one another. Love that I had seen through the way they lived during my first 40 years.

Luke records Jesus beginning his ministry by reading then talking about Isaiah 61:

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
    because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor,
to proclaim release to the captives,
and recovery of sight to the blind,

    and to let the oppressed go free;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
— Isaiah 61:1-2 as read by Jesus and recorded by Luke 4:18-19 (NRSV)

Luke summarized Jesus’ teaching as: “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

Since scripture only records Jesus giving sight to a couple of blind men, without any overt instances of letting the oppressed or captives go free, one might conclude that Jesus’s mission had been fulfilled merely by the preaching of good news, the preaching of release, and the preaching of the year of the Lord’s favor without doing any of those tasks, without actually engaging in the mission Isaiah prophesied.

Bible: Greek, English, and CommentaryBut for the Church to have kept these writings from Luke, from Isaiah, and from dozens of other prophets and apostles for nearly 2,000 years, through wars and through peace, through famine and through prosperity, and to have carried them around the globe and to the moon and back, there must also have been significant acts of love that gave and continues to give lasting meaning to these writings.

What have you done, what are you doing, and how do you intend to live out the love in your relationships with your family, with your friends and with your neighbors in ways that gives meaning to your words, meaning that will live longer than the printed page or especially an HTML file?

Bring your dinner to our discussion of Luke 4:14-21 at 6 pm on Wednesday, January 20th. I will have more to say about this passage on Sunday, January 24th, at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.
Robert Shaw, Pastor