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Last Sunday's Sermon & Readings

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The New Testament

1 Corinthians 12:12-31a

Just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body--Jews or Greeks, slaves or free--and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot would say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear would say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many members, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you," nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But strive for the greater gifts.

The Gospel

Luke 4:14-21

Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.

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, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:

"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,

to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.

The Sermon

Luke tells us that Jesus has returned from the desert and he is now preaching from town to town and eventually he gets to his home town of Nazareth. It is here that he finally makes the statement that confirms him as the one they all have been waiting for. He says that he is the anointed one. The Holy Spirit is upon him and that scripture has been fulfilled. I can just imagine the shock that must have gone through all of those gathered.

Yes, they were all waiting for the messiah, the one who would overthrow the Romans and return the chosen people of God to greatness. But, this was Jesus, son of Joseph. He is a carpenter's son. They know him. They know his pedigree. How can this be? Next week the gospel lesson will continue and you will hear that things go badly for him in Nazareth.

But let me return to this reading. Jesus does not talk about overthrowing anyone. He says he has good news for the poor, the sick and the blind. These are the ones who are living on the edge of Jewish society.

That message has really not changed today. We still have people who are living on the edge. Right here in Chariton we have people who are disabled and poor. So what are we to do as Christians? It is great that we gather as Christians. We study scripture. We do all these things.

We must never forget that Jesus expects more of us. Jesus expects action. We are told in first Corinthians that we are the body of Christ. One of my favorite parts from this reading is when Paul writes, “in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body-- Jews and Greeks, slave or free-- and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” We all come from God and we are the body of Christ. All of us have different personalities and characteristics. I appear to be different from you and you are all different from each other. And yet we are of one Spirit.

This is the time of year when we gather for the annual meeting. We reflect on the last year. We look at the budget and we plan for the next year. We talk about the needs of the church building, the grounds and a lot of other stuff. We must also keep in mind that the church is the people and not the building, the grounds and the stuff.

We are Christ's hands and feet and we, like him are to be here for the poor, the homeless and all of God's creation. One of the questions in our bible study asked us to look at this statement in a metaphorical sense as well. We all know people who may have lots of money and yet are poor in other ways including spiritually. As far as blindness goes, there are many times that I have been blind to what was happening. When you think of people's needs in both a spiritual and physical sense you cast a very wide net. It sounds like a very big job and it is. But remember, we are not alone. May God be with you.

Fr. Fred

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