This Sunday, we will see Jesus' dive into public life. He stands up in his hometown synagogue, and for his first sermon, Jesus chooses this passage, from the fiery truth-teller, Isaiah:
"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 then, in the mic drop of all mic drops, Jesus SITS, taking on the posture of a rabbi, and he says, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."
In these few short words, Jesus publicly declares his mission statement, but he also says, "Mission Accomplished."
For centuries, Israel had dreamed about the Jubilee, or "the year of the Lord's favor." The Jubilee was to happen every 50 years (7 weeks of years), and in that year, everyone would return to their ancestral land, no matter who had owned it in the intervening years. Prisoners and slaves would be released, no questions asked. The oppressed finally knew freedom. Debts were forgiven. People were restored.
But the Jubilee never actually happened. It was a beautiful vision, a Biblical dream, but in the real world, it was something left to the dreamers.
Jesus comes along and says, the time is now. All is restored. The Jubilee is TODAY.
On Sunday, we'll explore the mission that Jesus accomplished, and we will also reflect on our own mission as Good Shepherd Lutheran Church: Christ's body right here in North Raleigh. At our Congregational Annual Meeting, we'll celebrate the last year and declare that God has indeed been at work. In 2018, God, through our community, brought good news to those who are poor, helped people to see things more clearly, shined a light on oppression and worked toward freedom for all. We have cared for one another and the world God made. We have worked for peace and justice. The Spirit has been working here. The scripture has been fulfilled.
And still, there's more to do! We look at the state of our world, and we know that is true. All is not yet restored. Jesus' Jubilee is here, but its completion is still fodder for our dreams.
And so, we celebrate, and we keep dreaming. We'll approve a new budget together - another kind of mission statement. We'll take a good look at the fine work of all those who have prepared this document, and we'll imagine all that God will do with our dollars in 2019.
We are a part of something beautiful, Beloved. We are a part of God's Jubilee. That restoration is for us. And through us, with God's doing, may it reach out and take hold in the world around us.
Peace be with you.