While we will not worship together at Saint James’ this morning, I do invite you to take a moment to pray, to give thanks, and to reflect.
To help you here is a link to this Sunday’s readings.
Here is a link to our Book of Common Prayer. In the Daily Office you will find Morning Prayer Rite I or Rite II or shorter daily devotions.
And finally, here is a reflection on today’s readings and (since today was to be our annual meeting) on the year that has past :
We find Jesus in his hometown synagogue invited to read from and interpret the scriptures. He unrolls the scroll to the place in the 61st chapter of Isaiah that reads :
“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.”
Jesus hands the scroll to an attendant, and as all the eyes in the synagogue are fixed on him he says to them, “Today the scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing”. At least for a moment, the crowd seems to revel in their local boy’s pronouncement. We’ll save the unraveling of that good will for next week.
For now we will just take in Jesus’s claim. This is his mission statement. For many places in the world this passage, even more so than Jesus’ familiar words from his sermon on the mount, the beatitudes, captures the promise of Jesus’ ministry and God’s particular concern. God has not forgotten the poor, the captives, the blind, the oppressed, the brokenhearted.
As the body of Christ, the church, we not only gather to worship and celebrate God, we commit to carrying out God’s saving work in the world. We are called to bring hope, light, and relief to others, especially those most in need of knowing God and God’s church has not forgotten them.
Paul affirms that responsibility within and outside the body of the church. The Body of Christ depends on all its members and unique gifts and passions there-in in order to care for one another and reach outside our walls. Paul also reminds us that we are “one” and that if one member suffers we all suffer, if one is honored we all are honored, if one is weak or vulnerable we are to use our collective gifts to care for him or her.
As I sit and reflect on the year that is past, I pose the questions, “How have we lived together as the Body of Christ?” and “How have we carried out Christ’s mission to the World?”. If I had you as a more captive audience (sitting in your pew) I would expound (seemingly) endlessly on the work and accomplishments of this past year. Since you are a bit freer to get up and refill your coffee, glance outside at the yet un-shoveled snow, pick up the morning paper, I will ask you to answer the questions. Before you get up from the computer please take a few minutes to think about our life together. How have we lived together as the Body of Christ? How have we carried out Christ’s mission to the World? In our worship, our outreach, our formation and spiritual growth, our welcome and invitation to others, our fellowship, our pastoral care.
Next week at our rescheduled annual meeting, you will receive a collection of our annual reports from our various ministry areas, which will tell much of our story. It has been a very rich year. I stand in awe of the collection of gifts freely offered at Saint James’ Episcopal Church and School. I am humbled to be your rector and watch as you care for one another, as you share your God given gifts, and as you seek to offer Good News to the poor, proclaim release to the captives (realizing that many are enslaved by more than prison bars), bind up the brokenhearted, comfort all who mourn….
As we continue in what promises to be a remarkable year, a year in which we will celebrate our bicentennial, roll out our “Learning Starts Early” preschool initiative, and kick off our capital campaign to renovate and expand our building and our reach, I encourage us to keep today’s readings and the questions they elicit at the forefront so that we may most fully represent Christ to one another and to the world. Amen.