Sunday, January 27, 2013

Mission Statements and such



 Gate Pa – Epiphany 3 2013
Readings:
First Reading               Neh 8:1-3,5-6,8-10 
Second Reading          1 Cor 12: 12-31a
Psalm:                                     19
Gospel:                                    Luke 4:14-21

What I want to say:
Explore how we might read this statement of Jesus in Luke 4,
            not read it as a mission statement (as I used to understand that phrase, and as I have read this passage)
            but as the way Luke invites us to understand Jesus the Word
            where we are to look on-going work God today
            as a way we are to understand ourselves as people of God today. (not what to do, but who we are)

What I want to happen:
People to continue to be shaped as people God, living out incarnation amongst people of these communities
Continue to grow into results of our work last year – “Initiate conversations about living incarnationally in our streets.”

The Sermon

     1.      Introduction:

old job – helping parishes develop mission statements and strategic plans
        mission statement describe their role,
Gate Pa Mission Statement
To bring all people to God and to unite
each other in Christ
-          strategic plans help parishioners commit themselves to mission statement,
o   and develop ways for parish to live that out
Last year’s parish meeting about engaging with our community
decided that we would “Initiate conversations about living incarnationally in our streets.”
when we decided that
thought – who can write strategic plan about that
terrible
        really woolly

      2.      Modernity and mission statements

Last week I talked a little bit about modernity
how we are no longer in this time
            and are now in an in between time
            know what we have left, just not sure what is next
church developed in modernity no longer works
one great thinkers who shaped modernity was Isaac Newton
Scientist - physicist
described universe like machine
a lot of his thinking still shapes our understand universe today
provided the lens by which we made sense of everything
he said
want understand universe
need pull it apart
identify building blocks, - smallest parts,
find out how worked,
and then put it all back together
universe was sum of all its parts
once understand parts, how they work, you can predict what will happen when any one of those parts is changed
everything in universe seen in same light
machine like
predictable
controllable.
thinking not only applied to science
also applied just about every area human endeavour
one of defining patterns of modernity
But - no longer way physicists describe universe
while is high level mathematical elegance to universe
also uncertainty
nor is universe seen as sum of its parts -
universe now seen greater than sum of its parts
Newton’s thinking still colours a lot of our thinking
last year news frenzy about CERN particle accelerator– we had discovered that smallest thing – now all will be revealed
Except it wont
also been applied economics
if understand component parts economy,
predict what will happen if any components change
current financial crisis teaches us all not as predictable as we thought
sadly
way seeing world also applied human organisations, like church
that thinking gave rise to mission statements and strategic plans
organisation, like church , made up individuals
you and me
when get people to commit to an overarching cause or idea (mission statement)
develop strategic plan allow leaders to plan and predict what will happen
organise life organisation around that mission statement
trouble is
never really worked
people are not like cogs machine
choose not line up with mission statement
get way too busy with work, family, health, life
why am I talking about all this
passage heard from Luke is often described as Jesus mission statemnt
given everything I’ve just said, how are we to read Luke 4 now?

      3.      Luke

last week heard from John who begins Jesus ministry wedding at Cana with a bit wine making
this week back to Luke,
for Luke - this is the beginning of Jesus ministry
            no wedding at Cana
baptised – spirit descends on him
goes out wilderness – tested
come back out – no angels looking after him – just has to man up
filled with power spirit
begins go synagogues and preach – gets a bit of a reputation
goes home
where grown up
Learnt read (pretty unusual thing)
where he had heard Isaiah as grown up and through his adulthood
he is asked to read
so he chooses this passage
interestingly - this passage does not exist as Luke records it
mostly Is 61.1 and 2
-          misses out bit about Year of Lord also being the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn;
bit Is 58: 6 (to let the oppressed go)
Luke get it wrong?
was Nazareth scroll faulty?
neither
Luke is very deliberate how he writes this story
This passage contains very important themes for Luke
key themes in understanding who Jesus is
            Spirit
            anointing
The Poor – which the passage further describes
Luke is announcing that Jesus is the one who does the work of God’s spirit,
He was anointed by  the spirit to proclaim the coming of God’s reign,
reign of liberation
we hear echoes of these themes in sermon on Mount
same themes reappear in Jesus answer to John query as to whether Jesus really is the one
same themes that acted out in story of Nativity,
and freedom songs sung through that story
whole gospel is how Jesus lived this out
themes that captured longings of God’s people
capture longings of so many people
            then and now
So here we have Jesus
lived in poor village up north
he is one of the poor
deliberately searches out this text from Isaiah
proclaims “the year of the Lord's favour”
50th year
year of Jubilee
debts that left poor landless are forgiven
land is restored to those who have lost it
those who have accumulated land have to give it back
            no recompense
where everything begins again
God’s justice prevails
Jesus says to poor people Nazareth
with all their longings and hopes
 "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."  

      4.      So What

pretty important passage for Luke,
fair say, he understood this pretty important passage for Jesus
Jesus used this piece from Isaiah to understand who he was
this is the lens by which Jesus, according to Luke,
and Luke ,
made sense of everything
lens used to interpret his experience of God
lens used make sense of how he was to live this out
this is much much more than a mission statement
            simply about his role
this is about who Jesus is (ontology)
Jesus is the one who does the work of God’s spirit
who brings about God’s reign of justice

      5.      The Poor

Luke offers us this passage to be the lens by which we see the world
lens by which we make sense of Jesus
of ourselves
how to live our lives in response
2 things then note
a. mustn’t spiritualise this away
in Luke
Jesus ministry set among poor Palestine
he proclaimed and lived good news for poor
            not poor in spirit
            but the poor
need to take hold of that – because Luke understood Jesus to be good news for the poor
the real poor
everywhere
every age

      6.      Hearing

b. need to hear that “"Today this scripture has been fulfilled in our hearing."  
to hear is to do more hear sound
it is to receive what is being said
Centuries we in West heard Isaac Newton’s understanding of the universe
we were shaped by it
lens through which we heard and saw everything
this morning we are to hear these words of Isaiah
to hear means to be be shaped,
that they become the lens through which we hear and see everything
when we truly hear these words,
we like Jesus begin to shaped and defined by them
as we were by Newtons thoughts
we begin, like Jesus, to live them out
when we hear these words,
when we internalise these words
when we let these words shape us
we join the mission of God
Work of the Spirit continues

7.      Conclusion

brings us back to last year’s parish meeting about engaging with our community
live incarnationally
is really woolly idea
one of best things ever heard parish meeting come up with.
exactly what todays is about
live incarnationally means
truly hear these words from Luke this morning
and to  join risen Christ on-going work Spirit
where would we be mostly likely to see on-going work Spirit
Luke says
where good news brought to the poor.
release proclaimed to the captives
the blind see,
oppressed go free,
where the year of the Lord's favour is proclaimed."

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