By Rev (Deacon) Wendy Elson, part of the Shearwater Ministry Team
“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.” Luke 4:18-19
Luke is a master storyteller in his use of reversals and the “unexpected turn of events. That which you think is like this….is not like that at all, but rather like this”.
In this Luke passage, which is a bit of a manifesto for me (and many deacons), Jesus climbs out of the Jordan straight after his baptism, then straight into the wilderness temptations, then straight into his ministry commencement …. filled with the Holy Spirit.
There is an image there of Jesus filled with passion, excitement and enthusiasm for his new ministry role. Then he is immediately given the opportunity to preach and gives us the most amazing manifesto.
Jesus tells us that the Spirit has ordained him (and us) to hold people in their brokenness, to give priority to feeding and liberating, healing to the hurting and disadvantaged. Jesus says straight up that this is what ministry is about, that this radical inclusivity will define him and his ministry.
The religious folks were incensed to the point of seeking to kill him (which of course eventually happened). They couldn’t believe they were being told that it wasn’t all about them, but rather about the marginalised.
Disciples of Jesus know the church doesn’t exist for itself. It is not a bastion of comfort for churchgoers. Rather it exists for Christians to throw open the doors and practice this radical inclusion.
Those on the fringes are ministered to, loved and welcomed. Jesus’s preaching gives the hearers the opportunity to experience the ordaining of the Spirit and to walk with him into the spaces inhabited by the desperate, the sad, the broken and the hungry.
In Luke, Jesus walks away sad.
You and I, we are given this same opportunity. Let’s step out on to the path with Jesus and see where the Spirit leads us into the practice of love and the warmth of welcome and hospitality for all.
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