Unexpected: A Devotion for Snowmagedden 2016
O God, in our baptism you poured out your Spirit upon us, that we may be empowered by your very presence in us. Grant us the grace to follow your Son, Jesus, to be transformed into heralds of good news to the poor and suffering, the marginalized and the outcast, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
Gospel Reading Luke 4:14-21
Read the text here.
Over the ten years I spent serving as a youth director, the greatest joy of mine was to watch kids grow and develop their sense of self and wrestle with their faith. Witnessing those moments when a young person "gets it," that we're on a journey, and the world isn't as black and white as we thought is incredibly powerful. Even more powerful, and less often seen by teachers and mentors of all kinds, is the long term impacts of the Spirit's formation on an individual. And when you finally do come across those individuals later in life, the changes can be surprising and sometimes overwhelming. For instance, a few years ago, one of my former "youthies" received her PhD. That took a minute to sink in.
I wonder what the people in the room were thinking when Jesus came into the synagogue? (We'll find out in next week's text where the story goes.) These are the same people with whom Jesus studied throughout his life. They watched him play and grow, listened to him debate and teach. The text tells us how his reputation had spread throughout the region and surely they had been hearing about him. Were they excited to see him? Were they skeptical? Either way, they wanted to hear what he had to say.
When it comes to Jesus, no one in the world saw him coming. He is the unlikely candidate. The unexpected messiah. He wasn't what the world was looking for. For those gathered, he is one of their own. Perhaps they had considered his understanding to be exceptional, but messianic?
The gospel text for today, basically presents the author's mission statement of Jesus' ministry. Jesus came to bring good news to those who were poor, those who were suffering, those who were cast aside. It wasn't news that they were going to get rich, or "get their fair share," nope it's bigger than that. This year of the Lord's favor, that the prophet Isaiah namedrops is a throwback to Leviticus 25:8-13. It's a prescribed time when all things are made equal, when slaves are made free, when debts are forgiven, and land redistributed. To be fair, there are some debates to whether this "Jubilee" practice ever really occurred in its fullness, but the implications alone are beyond tolerable for any 2016 political campaign. And here, this kid from the playground, one of their own youthies, laid it out there, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because h has anointed me to bring good news...." Let that take a minute to sink in.
What about you?
When are some times when you've been surprised by someone's growth in the Spirit?
When have you recognized the Spirit in yourself?
What does Jesus' choice of Scripture say about the mission he is to embark on? What does it say about ours?
The Spirit is upon me...and you.