The Scriptures today are about…The Scriptures! Reading aloud / Reading in public / as a congregation.
*OT: Ezra brings the book and reads to the people as they gather in Jerusalem after having returned from Exile.
* Gospel: Jesus reads the scroll in the synagogue – He is also coming back home in Nazareth after his experience in the wilderness.
It’s not unlike what we do here every Sunday. We share the Scriptures together, in our “home church”. It is said that the Hebrews were deeply moved, they cried when they heard the Scriptures. In the same way, the people in the synagogue in Nazareth were “amazed” (surprised, troubled, for better of for worse). Scriptures can stir in us many kind of reactions: It can bring comfort or on the other side make us upset.
The Bible should not leave us indifferent because it is about God but it is also about us…
Of course, the Bible is about who is God, about God’s love…But the Bible tells a story (The “Law” is actually the 5 books of the Torah/ Five first books our Bible: Story of the covenant and the Story of liberation from Egypt.) The Bible is also the story of Exile with Prophets / Redemption in JC.
It is about what God’s love do for God’s people: Set them free.
In our Gospel today, Isaiah is strangely quoted. Luke puts an emphasis on the liberation part because this is what it is really about. Year of Jubilee: When the slaves were set free.
In Jesus, it’s the continuation of the promise, the fulfillment of the Scriptures – with liberation.
– Liberation from what? From very concrete things: Oppression, injustices. Liberation from jail (Joseph, Peter), from being slaves (Exodus) from captivity in a foreign land (Exile)…But all of that is the material, part is like the top of the iceberg, the visible part of a deeper spiritual reality: We are captives. We need liberation from our sins, our pain, our diseases, our addictions and anxieties, our doubts or maybe we need to be liberated from our certainties, our prejudices.
What do we need to be liberated from? What would it change in our lives? In the world?
– Jesus’s statement understood as the church’s statement. Good reminder since this Sunday is for most churches Annual meeting Sunday. When Jesus says he is bringing liberation, it reminds us that Church is not only about the building (and the issues we may have with it!). The church is not only about the (different) ways we worship. This week is the week of prayers for the unity of Christians… Maybe we can agree that what matters the most in church is our love for Christ and how we carry Christ’s mission / what we actually do for others (MLK), how we bring them liberation.
And so reading Scriptures is transformative: They move us “inside” because they try to move us from the places where we are stuck… They should lead us to question, to change, to act.
Jesus reminds us in the Gospel that it is about doing / participating. When Jesus says that the Scriptures have been “Fulfilled in your hearing”, he does not necessarily mean: “I am the Messiah” (Some passages of the Gospel show that Jesus tried to avoid this kind of publicity). Maybe he says that we are invited to get it done, and he saw himself as called to do it, as directly concerned by the Scriptures. (When some of the Jews at Jesus’s time were dreaming of a Messiah to fix things for them)
What about us? Do we think that it is “on us”? That we need to “fulfill the Scriptures”?
– So, concretely, how do we receive and bring liberation? Can take many different forms but this is my experience this week: If Jesus asks us to bring liberation, visiting prison is part of the things I try to do…Difficult for me to make abstraction of surroundings: walls / locks / uniforms / guns…It makes me feel very powerless b/c maybe the lawyer bring actual freedom from the cell but what kind of liberation could I bring as a Christian?
This week I just sat as I attended a painting workshop. Coloring and painting together with the inmates, a small group of women, we talked about our every day lives: Children, pets, clothes, celebrities…At some point, I realized I didn’t see the walls anymore and felt no more anxiety at all. I think we “forgot” where we were.
As I thought about this experience, I think we had a sense of liberation because of mutual connection. And I think this what Paul is talking about with the image of the body. Isolation makes us sick (psychologically) in different ways, we cannot “function” being isolated, the same way members cannot “function” when they are not connected to the body. But when we are together, we are made whole. We are set free from anxieties, fears, the prison of our own minds and hearts.
The image of the body for the Christian community is a very strong image. An eye cannot be an eye without a body / just a piece of flesh with no function and no life. But it’s not only about function, what we are able to do, the work, it is also about sensitivity: we feel deeply when we are connected. Share pain and joy together. When we don’t share the pain and the joy, life loses all its meaning.
God really created us for one another, as God created each member for the body.
Paul reminds us of our inter-dependence on one another: we rediscover that with ecology / example of Yellowstone: When the wolves were reintroduced in the National Park, it changed the whole ecosystem and even the physical geography. Each one of us has a role and a function for the benefit and the enjoyment of all.
Paradox / Mystery: As we participate in our community, we become better, more fulfilled individuals. We become truly who we are. Each one of us must have something to do and empowered to do it well. Each one of us has a unique place according to their gifts. In the EC, we are “welcome” but more than welcome, we need to be “needed” / to have a part to play. We “liberate” our gifts / our skills / discover and give the best of who we are in serving our community. In the church, there is not one person to “do it all” or one the other side one person to “sit down and enjoy the show”.
Think about the ways we can serve / be connected to each other in ways that “liberate” bring joy and fulfillment to each members and to the whole community…
One thought on “Epiphany III”
This is just what I needed to hear today. With a ill husband, I do feel isolated at times. There are many people that reach out to me but I need to reach out to others too. Thank you for God’s word an reflections!!!!