Sermon at St. James Black Mountain January 27, 2019

Porter Taylor

Epiphany 4C—1/17/19

St James Black Mountain

Today is the day Jesus comes home.

After his baptism and the 40 days in the wilderness, he returns to Nazareth

Where everyone knows who he is--

Joseph's son; the carpenter; the guy down the street.

He goes to the synagogue but that's not unusual,

He often went to the synagogue

It was no big deal.

People were only mildly interested.

Maybe he would say something interesting--

Perhaps they would be entertained.

But they didn't expect much.

Jesus came and read from Isaiah--

All about God changing the world--

Good news to the poor, release to the captives. Sight to the blind.

Yada yada yada.------Same old same old.

Jesus sits down and doesn't say a word.

Then he speaks the word that shook the people- Today.

Today he said, it's all true—Today the scripture has been fulfilled.”

Some people got mad---

(8 verses later Luke reports that some of the townspeople tried to throw him over a cliff)

Some people were bewildered; they wondered what in the world he was talking about--

But most shrugged it off and said "Whatever"

So it was and so it is.

We make these Holy Stories tame by pushing them away from the terrifying present.

It's fine to talk about Jesus as long as he stays in the past, isn't it?

We can theorize over what he really said or didn't say.

We can talk about the newest archeological discoveries

            To prove or disprove whether his words are true.

We can think about the physiology of the miracles:

We can think about it’s possible for the lame to walk or the blind to see.

Or we can tame these Holy Scriptures by pushing them into some future

we never have to deal with.

The 2nd Coming is all myth and metaphor, we say.

It's all about giving people hope so they can endure this present.

But the truth is today is the only time we ever have to be alive.

Today is the only time we have to be released from what binds us

Today is the day the scripture is being fulfilled in our hearing.

The word "TODAY" is the good news Jesus brings.

The good news is that God brings life to the world right now and right here.

If the gospel is just about 2000 years ago or the end of the world,

it may be interesting news, but it's not good news

And if the gospel just gives us hope that one day, all will be well-

It may be optimistic news, but it's not good news.

The good news is not about yesterday or someday-

It's about today.

Today God releases God's children from captivity.

Today God gives God's children sight.

Today we will eat the bread of heaven and drink from the cup of salvation.

Today we can know the Peace that passes all understanding.

And today, Jesus has set this world on a new road as well.

If we believe in God then the old ways of division are gone and the kingdom has come.

Whatever sin captivates us---our greed, our anger, or fear------

we can be free if we open up to what God is doing today.

Which is the only time we have to be alive.

Today Jesus announces that today---the kingdom draws near

Not because it could happen; but because it is happening.

The love of Jesus is a reality.

We can ignore it, but we cannot destroy it.

He proclaims it and it simply is

            If we believe that, then why not base our lives on it?

Why believe more in our politicians’ division

than in God’s reign of justice, peace, and mercy?

If we believe in God’s power and that God loves humankind

Then we are called to live in the kingdom today---here and now.

St. Francis heard God say "Today build my church"

and he began, rock by rock on that very day.

Betty Williams, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976 , heard God say in her heart

Stop the violence in Northern Ireland today--

And she began knocking on doors telling people God wants them to live in peace that very day.

Desmond Tutu faced a group of soldiers ringing the walls of the Church

And he heard God saying to him--- "Today is the day to be stop apartheid"

In that moment he began speaking to the soldiers brother to brother about a new beginning that very day

He said, "Put down your weapons because you've already lost. "

Not because of what he could do---but because what God is doing today.

I have heard the Lord speak “today” in times of great pain and greath

            When I sat with my dying father in ICU—today you will be with me in paradise

When my wife and I held our adopted children for the first time---today this is God’s blessing

            The truth is everyday is today.

God in Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit is always proclaiming

            Today is the day of the Lord’s favor---

            Today is the day the world will change

We are called to embrace that hope with our hearts and with our lives        

The truth is that this is the only life we have to live

And this is the only moment we have to be alive

            Today is the day the Lord has made let us _______ rejoice and be glad in it.

When Jesus announces the year of the Lord’s favor,

            He is announcing that Republicans and Democrats can work together today

            And there are no more shootings in schools today

No more racial conflict----Job jobs for all wiling workers--Peace in the Mideast today

            A deep awareness that everyone gets to start over

            A world where everyone has enough.

Today--- January 27, 2019---today Jesus has unrolled the scroll and says to us

This---2019-- is the year of the Lord’s favor-----Today.