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January 30, 2022 – 4th Sunday After Epiphany. 

Sunday Service – 10:30 a.m.

Minister: - Rev Shepherd Munikwa

Text: Luke 4:21–30 

Theme: Jesus is Calling us to a Team Ministry!

This is Epiphany Season according to our lectionary. Epiphany means a sudden insight or new understanding. It means to reveal or to be manifest. It is time of growth, vitality, freshness, harmony, endurance, and fertility. It is time for healing, rest, depth and stability.

In last week’s reading {Luke 4:14-21}, Jesus announced the inauguration of his ministry in a synagogue reading from Isaiah and the assertion that there is good news for the poor, release for captives, sight for the blind, and freedom from oppression. He finished up by proclaiming that this was the year of God’s favor and that today this anticipated prophecy was being fulfilled in their hearing. Jesus points to himself as the fulfillment of the prophecy and as the one able to offer salvation to all.

In this week’s reading we find out what the synagogue audience thought of Jesus’ prophetic declaration and explore the rest of the dialogue between Jesus and his audience. Despite Jesus’ revelation and invitation for social justice work, his hometown crowd is full of anger and rejection. When they heard Jesus proclaiming good news; they wanted proof in the form of signs that Jesus is the prophet he claims to be. So, they responded with anger, and as a group they rise up and try to kill him. In many ways this is a foreshadowing of the way that Jesus’ ministry will unfold in the years ahead. Jesus’ proclamation of a kingdom in which the poor inherit a kingdom, in which the hungry are filled, and in which the rich and full are pulled down ultimately will lead him to the cross.

But for now, just as Jesus came to the synagogue with a proclamation of good news, so now he goes away and in the following verses, we find Jesus continuing to teach and heal in the places that he goes.

Jesus is revealing himself to the world but it looks like he was far from an instant success. His initial sermon caused turmoil and he was thrown out of his home community. He paid the price for speaking up for truth and justice. Being a solitary voice can be a difficult journey, speaking for the disheartened and discouraged; we are called to defend and visit those who are imprisoned and to have time for those who are considered outcasts by society. Living the peace is more than keeping the peace. It involves finding ways to make the circle of the community of faith wider and wider. Today would be a good opportunity to look for echoes of the message of Jesus calling us into love for neighbour with other religions. We are invited to draw the circle wider by including the excluded.

Such salvation should be understood broadly as God’s redemptive work through Jesus with special attention given to those who are marginalized. When we think about our own proclamation of the good news of Jesus, we might ask ourselves “Is our message good news for the poor? For the captive? For the oppressed? Does our proclamation envision that all can be saved?” If our message is not as broad as Jesus’ message, then we must ask “How can we proclaim the good news of Jesus so that it is good news for the very people whom Jesus pointed towards in his announcement of the gospel?”

We are invited and encouraged to enlarge our home. What is home? Home is your safe place. Home is your walls, secured windows, locking doors, perhaps the fence around the place. Home is family, your people. They’re on the inside, and the walls, doors, and fences keep what’s not family—what’s not home—on the outside. Your home town is an association of connected citizens distinguished from everybody else that is out there. It is us. Your Church is your home, too, the place where the religious family meets, brother and sister, those who are on the same theological team. The Church, houses the insiders from the rest of the world, are separated out from everybody else not just by the walls and doors of the meeting place but by practices that demonstrate clearly who is in and who is out. All those things very specifically distinguish the home team from the visitors. Us-them. Rather clear. And we’ve got the walls to prove it.

As for me friends, we are a family, our Church building is a meeting place, where we strategize from, where we meet, planning and assigning each other for mission in the world. Being led, guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Friends! Jesus is Calling us for this Team Ministry. Hallelujah! Amen!