That Something Jesus Wants For Us

The following is only an excerpt of this sermon. The full sermon can be heard by clicking the audio link below.

Luke 4.14-21

I went to the Cache Community Connections meeting this week, Wednesday, and they were talking about the nativity scene that they put out on the Tabernacle grounds, and they wanted to expand that decoration of Christmastime. They wanted to make it a community event and they talked about the nativity scene that they have there. Apparently they’ve had a problem with that, somebody kind of steals the baby out of the crib. And they were wondering well what happens to Jesus when he goes out on these little field trips?

Well now, it is almost a month since we celebrated the coming of that cute little baby in the manger. And so it is an appropriate time to ask, well what happened to that cute little baby? What happened to that cute little baby Jesus that we met just a month ago? As we who are parents know, our babies grow too fast.

There are moments when we would prefer that the cute little baby in the humble manger, with the angels singing overhead, would stay a baby. We like that moment, it gives us a glimpse into heaven. The spirit is there, it is a divine moment.

But like our own babies, the one we met in the manger grows up. And he grows up fast. He couldn’t stay in the crib, he couldn’t play in the village forever, he couldn’t stick with the trade of carpentry that his father taught him, he couldn’t even hang out in the temple impressing the religious scholars with his knowledge of the law and the prophets as Luke tells us. He had to leave, he had to go explore, he had to baptized and spend time in the wilderness being tested, all of this because he was about something.

In this story that we heard this morning, these verses from Luke’s gospel, in Jesus’ first sermon that we receive, we discover precisely what this something is. Matthew, Mark and Luke, called the synoptic gospels because they’re so closely tied to each other, all give us the story of Jesus’ return to his hometown and they all three tell us that Jesus is rejected by his hometown folk. But Luke, however, gives us a more full account, and the author places it at the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, indicating that Jesus’ sermon there, in his hometown, is special. It is programmatic in the sense that it gives us insight into what he is all about.

Everything that we hear about in the story that follows, everything that Jesus says and does and everything that he does not say and do, is encapsulated in this message that he gives – when he receives the ancient scroll, and he unrolls it and he brings these ancient words to life. This sermon is something. Indeed I would suggest that it gives us insight into the very heart of God.

The spirit of the Lord is upon me, he read, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim relief to the captive, and recovery of sight to the blind. To let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. Jesus was definitely about something, whereas our faith can be too often be about little to nothing. Jesus was definitely about something.

That something is changing, delivering and challenging you and me. Yes, you and me. For the “today” in the story, when Jesus says “Today the scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing,” that “today” means more than that today long ago in that synagogue far away. That today rings across the centuries and echoes into this sanctuary on this day, January 24, 2010.

Now there is a sharp edge to Jesus’ sermon and we will balance on that sharp edge next week. Next week we will think about why the hometown crowd, so favorably disposed toward Jesus in the beginning, gets angry enough to throw him off a cliff. But that’s next week. You all come back now.

Today, today is for those of us who find ourselves described in the words from Isaiah that Jesus reads. This morning is for those of us who are poor. Yes, poor. This morning is for those of us who are held captive. Held captive by pain or by powers outside our control. For those of us held captive by pride or by addiction to one unhealthy thing or another. For those of us who are blinded by our own affluence, or self-centeredness. Or for those of us who are oppressed by ideology, whether it is our neighbors or our own. Today is for those of us who are weighed down by ill health or by circumstances or relationships or responsibilities in our life that drain us and weigh us down, like a 1,000-pound weight on our shoulder. I don’t know about you, but I can find myself in these words. Jesus’ words, his something, is for us.

(To listen to the sermon in full, please click below)

This entry was posted in Sermons. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.
  • A Season of Resurrection

    Resurrection day has arrived. And with it the reminder of eternal hope because of Jesus Christ. Spring has also arrived here in Cache Valley, and while it’s not over, the end of our year-long pandemic seems to be approaching, thanks be to God. I hope this day finds you well in spirit and body, and also vaccinated (or soon-to be). I saw a sign the other day that reminded me while we’ve all been through the same storm in this last year, we haven’t all been in the same boat. Some people have weathered this storm fairly well, others have struggled mightily in one way or another. In spiritual terms, economic terms, emotional terms, and in health. And of course, not everyone has made it through the storm. I am worried that recent progress in this pandemic could be lost, but I’m thankful so many vaccinations are underway. As I’m sure it has been for you, this has been an emotionally challenging year for me as well. It seems to have contained more “downs” than “ups.” But my belief in God keeps me hopeful. Having spoken to many of you, I am thankful that a large portion of our congregation has received Covid-19 vaccinations or are in process of doing that now. The better our state and local community are doing, the sooner we’ll be able to worship in the building together.

    We’re beginning to worship together (outdoors, for the moment) for the first time in over a year. Your elders and Worship Committee have been hard at work making plans for us to transition from online worship back to in-person worship. I’d like to share with you how this process will work. To begin, we will continue to have online worship in some form, even as we get back to in-person outdoor worship (and eventually indoor). This allows anyone who wishes to continue worshiping from home to do so. We will be purchasing a special camera that allows us to livestream a worship service (which means what we do in worship goes straight to YouTube, with no long hours of editing required).

    Details for May are not yet determined, although we are making preparations and plans for indoor worship, for when Session feels it is safe. Session and the Worship Committee have approved the following plans for April:

    April 4th (Easter Sunday!)—we will worship together outdoors, in the Peace Garden and along the East side of the sanctuary, at 11 a.m.  We will hold this outdoor service (with members of our choir leading us in song) no matter the weather, so bring an umbrella or rain jacket if necessary. Masks will be required. YouTube worship will also be available.

    April 11th—we will worship via YouTube on April 11th, with a sermon delivered by an outstanding preacher named Rev. Brian Ellison. Brian is the Executive Director of the Covenant Network, a national group of church leaders working for a church that is simultaneously faithful, just, and whole, that seeks to support the mission and unity of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and to articulate and act on the church’s historic, progressive vision and to work for a fully inclusive church (particularly concerning the LGBTQIA+ community). FPC Logan is a member of the Covenant Network. Meg and I will lead the service, but Brian will be our preacher.

    April 18th—we will worship together outdoors at Trapper Park in southwest Logan, at 11 a.m. This Sunday is dedicated to Earth Day, and after a service (with music from our Praise Band) you are invited to walk the wonderful Logan River Trail with us. Materials will be provided to collect trash along the trail. There is a pavilion at Trapper’s Park. We will hold this service rain or shine (come dressed for the weather). Masks will be required for the service in the park. A YouTube service will be available for those who wish to stay home.

    April 25th—we will worship via YouTube on April 25th. Going back to YouTube this Sunday allows us to evaluate the recent outdoor services and make plans for future services, which may be outdoor, or if we are fortunate, perhaps indoor.

    I thank you for your grace and patience during this long year, and in coming months. It’s been a difficult one for your pastors and church staff too. I am thankful that we’ve had YouTube worship, but I’m very much looking forward to getting back to seeing each other in person and worshiping the Lord together.

    In this season of resurrection, may your hearts be filled with grace, peace, and joy.

    —Pastor Derek

  • Pages