In Luke’s Gospel, we see the constant theme of Jesus reaching out to the dispossessed, the poor, and the unlikely; in his account of Jesus’s birth, Luke shows us shepherds rather than kings as the witnesses. In Jesus’s revelation to John the Baptist, Luke gives us the context of a sermon urging people to not use their power to enrich themselves, but to share with others.
This week’s scripture tells of Jesus’s return to his home synagogue in Nazareth. There, he tells his church family that he has come to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, to lift up the brokenhearted and liberate the oppressed, fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy (which we read in December). But the tone quickly turns when he shares the long prophetic tradition of proclaiming this liberation to outsiders, people not in the audience. In response, the congregation promptly runs him out of town.
It has usually been the case that it is easier to hear a message for our own liberation that that of others. In the United States, we have seen this with the see-saws we have had over slavery, civil rights for freed slaves, Irish and Italian immigration, Jim Crow, Asian immigration, Japanese internment, Civil Rights and women’s liberation, and now again voting rights, the legacy of state-authorized discrimination, and religious freedom.
It is a national tradition to recognize that we work best when we work together, drawing in people from different backgrounds to common purpose, and one place that has manifested itself is in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. In honor of this preacher, who was killed for proclaiming liberty to the oppressed, people come together every year to serve in their communities. My family will once again be at Community Youth Concepts at 1446 MLK Parkway in Des Moines, where they have morning service projects for people of all ages from 9:30-11:30am. I invite anyone who has a day off to join us for the day on, or to find other opportunities to go out, connect, and work to build the future that Jesus promised.
Grace and Peace,