Preached on 27 January 2019 at Church of the Ascension Seattle Washington
The third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C
Today. Today, this Scripture has been fulfilled in your presence. This is Jesus’ hometown sermon. Sometimes that’s the most dangerous kind – they already know you, your history. They watched you grow up.
He’s been preaching and teaching around Galilee, but now he’s come home. The words he reads from the prophet, Isaiah, are no doubt familiar to the people. But then he sits down. And all eyes turn to him. They’ve heard the stories; they know what he’s been doing in the other towns. He looks them in the eye and says, in essence, This is Real. It’s True. And it’s right now. Today. In your presence.
While the NRSV translates it as “has been” fulfilled, it’s actually more of an ongoing meaning: It has been fulfilled, is being fulfilled, and it will continue being fulfilled in every Today. It’s not about a particular date in history.
We’ll see this proclamation of Good News play out all through Jesus’ ministry. We’ll see the release for those held captive by demons and disease. People who are blind will receive their sight; hungry people will be fed, and so on. It doesn’t end with the sermon on that day. It doesn’t end at the cross or even the ascension. The fulfillment of God’s promises continues, as we see in the ministry of the Apostles. It doesn’t end with them, either. This Scripture continues to be fulfilled in every Today. It is not only a declaration, but a promise.
When you look around you, what do you see? What do you focus on? It’s easy to notice what we think God should be doing. But what is God already doing? In this Today?
As Evelyn Underhill wrote, “God is always coming to you in the Sacrament of the Present Moment. Meet and receive God there, with gratitude in that Sacrament.”
It has been a joy to spend the last, nearly a year with you; to be part of your community; to meet and receive God in this Sacrament of the Present Moment, over and over again. To see God at work in and through the lives of the people of Ascension.
You have a lot to celebrate. This has most certainly not been a fallow year, a year of rest. No, we’ve continued and expanded our programs and ministries. People have stepped into new roles, onto new ground, tried new things. And we’re looking to the future, to what this new year holds for us.
You’ll hear a bit about some of those things when we move over to McLauchlan Hall after communion.
Like how “Becoming Beloved Community” is moving forward from learning about and talking about race and racism, to taking action; making some small steps to dismantle racism. And we’ll hear about how Outreach Ministries are reaching out to include more of our people.
You’ll learn about the many opportunities to join together to form the bonds of community and Spiritual friendship as we support one another in our lives in Christ – from the littlest children to our members who need a ride to church. Think about what you might like to do with your church friends, to support our mission and ministry.
You see, when Jesus says, “Today, this Scripture has been / is being / will continue to be fulfilled in your hearing, it’s not only a declaration; it’s not only a promise. It’s an invitation. An invitation to partner with Christ to fulfill the Scripture in every Today.
What we do, does make a difference, no matter how small that act seems. God is already at work in our lives – through our lives – for the sake of the world.
As one commentator wrote, “Jesus’ sermon is ours to finish. Well, not to finish, but ours to keep on preaching; ours to make sure keeps happening.”
Today. And every Today.