Sermon for January 30, 2022 Fourth after Epiphany “But Lord, I am only…”
Say what? Did I hear you correctly? Say that again. I can imagine the scene as it unfolds in the town of Nazareth. Jesus is home and everyone has heard the wonders and miracles that he has done in Capernaum. Everything is arranged just so, everyone is anticipating great things, certainly greater that what was done before, after all this is his home town, we are his people, he will certainly treat us better. So with wide eyes they hand Jesus the scroll of Isaiah and he 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 favour.” And they all smiled with wonder and amazement.
Then Jesus says “today this has been fulfilled in your hearing” and the response is ‘say what?’
The people of Jesus day and people today and all in between share similar traits when it comes to many topics…we like them at arm’s length. Religion is great so long as I do not have to be engaged. I will name myself as Christian on the census form but please do not ask me how that makes a difference, please don’t ask me to understand the teachings and please do not inconvenience my life by asking me to take part in a community of faith. In Jesus day the action was considerably harsher, to show their displeasure they unceremoniously ushered Jesus out of town to the edge of a cliff in order to silence him, but Jesus escaped, left town and the folks returned to their normal life. Thankful that Jesus was gone and hopeful he would not return. How quickly Jesus went from hero to zero.
Looking back about 600 years we find the young boy Jeremiah. God says to young Jeremiah, I formed you, to redeemed you, I named and called you and I choose you to be the one who leads the people. But I am only a boy, I cannot do what you ask. To which God replies, I know but I will give you the proper words to speak and people will listen, they may not always like what I ask you to say, but you will speak my words and the people will come to listen, even in new ways. In Jeremiah’s day the task sounds harsh ‘to pluck up and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant’. In our day it might sound like; to study and advise, to implement and assess, to equip and enable.
As we grow in faith I suspect we have moments when we feel nudged to action and at almost the same time our brain kicks in ands says ‘you are only…you can’t do that’. Well the bible is filled with people who overcame the I cant’s or I’m too…only to discover that…yes I can. This capacity to override the negative is leaned and practiced and for most it does not come easy. One of the greatest voices of our day (at least I think so) is Barbara Streisand, she has near depilating stage fright and yet she says; yes I can and she does. Another example is one of my favorite authors Brené Brown, as an introvert she has to work hard to be speak in large crowds, it is out of her comfort zone and she too says; yes I can.
Our first response to God or to the nudges that propel us to act might be: But God, I am too…but if we give into that thinking, what is your church, community or county missing? What are you missing. What I am here to remind you of is that God created you in God’s own likeness, Jesus redeemed, called and chose you for this very moment. You have the voice, skill and capacity to respond affirmatively to God. So go for it, just do it and see what your idea can do or where it will lead. Oh, and by the way, many will try to dissuade you. Take that as a sign you are on the right track.
It is time to move our ‘But Lord I am only…’ from resistance and excuse to, but Lord I am only…and by all that is holy, count me in. May we, touched by God’s hand move from reticence and reluctance to vibrant possibility and revival. For God…I am only created in your image, and that is enough.