Church Link Contribution From Rev Wendy Cooper
Luke 4:16-20 Good News
16 When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: 18 ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free,19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.20 And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down.
This starts out well, everyone is listening, but it is not long before Jesus has caused an uproar. He lays claim to this scripture for himself, and will not set limits on who can receive. He is saying:
I am here for a purpose. I have been sent by God to do this. I am anointed for this. The Spirit is upon me. My purpose is to heal, restore, set free, and make an exchange. Joy in place of mourning, beauty for ashes, liberty for chains, wholeness for brokenness. (Isaiah 61:1-3)
He does not demand any additional qualifications or small print to be eligible. He is not asking for references. This is open to all who will say ‘yes’ to receive from him. This is Good News.
And yet this is a hard saying too. If this is your promise then why do I still hurt? If you are for real then when will I be free? If you really mean this why is my life still in ashes? When I am this broken how could I ever be whole?
There are seasons for most of us when, no matter how strong our faith or long our journeys, or even if we are just beginning our explorations, we will find ourselves wrestling with these things. They are legitimate questions. It is OK to be honest about it as we travel through some of the tough stuff of life. Indeed it is often only from asking the questions that we may begin to see the answers.
I think that one of the difficulties we can have when we read or hear the scriptures, is that we often do this through the lens of our present culture. And for us today a large part of this is one of immediacy. We expect the instant, the quick fix. The faster the service the better the result. We have, to a large degree, lost the art of delay. We have lost patience with the wisdom of process.
Jesus did not promise instant. Sometimes, much like the Israelites in exile (Mike Oldham August CL), for whatever reason, we are called to build where we are. And we need to know that where we are, is where we are meant to be for this time in our lives.
In September’s Church link, Keith Thomasson reminds us of the wisdom in creation. The health of a crop is dependent on its environment. It needs good soil to sustain its growth. It also needs to be sown at the right time in the right season. To sow it out of time is to risk its potential. Sometimes we can be in danger of limiting our potential by wanting to move quicker than our healing allows. Even the best seed in the world still needs good soil, sun and rain, it cannot grow into its fullness on its own.
For all of us, there are times when it is only by staying and committing to the place that we are in, that we will be able to build our strength to move forward and flourish, when the time and season are truly right.
Rev’d Wendy Cooper