Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
Sunday Worship
11:00am Service
Pastor Heidi R. Chamberlain
Information info@potsdamumc.org


January 27th:

Call:       1 Corinthians 12: 12-27
Text:       Luke 4: 14-21
Read:   Psalm 19: 1-6, 11-14


As I suspect many of you did,   I spent much of Monday watching the inauguration and the parade that followed.

It was impressive,  it was fun,     and it was moving

I was impressed     - not only by the president's speech
    But also by the fact that the performers were clearly honored to be a part of the event.
    Medger Evers' widow and the poet whose name I can't remember
    And the singers
        soulful James Taylor;
        Energetic Kelly Clarkson -
              Although she didn't wear the green and gold
                  That I have come to expect of Clarkson people
        And Beyonce
Whether her song was performed live or by

I had fun   Trying to recognize government officials
            Before the commentators identified them

I was moved     by the scene of a Republican Chief Justice
            Swearing in a Democratic President
        And by a over a half million people
            Standing in the cold of a January Day
            To see and hear
The man they had elected as their leader

Too, I was moved by the fact that ordinary people could be there
      And not have to pay a penny to feel they were a part of it.

But not only was it impressive, fun, and moving
    It was also important and valuable
        Particularly in a country that seems so divided

Our newly reelected President
    Had the opportunity to make clear what he expects to
or at least wants to -
accomplish during the next four years.

Whether we voted for him        or for Mr. Romney
Whether we agree or disagree    with his goals
Or with his plans to achieve them -
    We had the chance to hear them directly from him.

That's how I began my week.
That's how I used my day off.

And then, much to my surprise,
Having watched the inauguration because I wanted to.
And with absolutely no anticipation
        That it would help me understand and share the story that that I had chosen as today's text some weeks ago.

I found that that impressive, fun, and moving start to the week
Indeed had had an impact on how I responded
to the story of Jesus in the synagogue in Nazareth.

My surprise probably means that I'm not very bright.

After all, twelve years ago
    The 2001 inauguration of another man from another party
        Had helped me with that Sunday's sermon
            A sermon based on a another text
        And from another book and even another testament
                    [Nehemiah 8]

as I listened to President Obama deliver his address
And as I thought of the many other times
I have listened to or read inaugural addresses

I came to realize that what Jesus did in the Nazarene Temple
Could be understood     as an inaugural address.

The first two verses set the stage      [4: 14-15]

So as our story begins,
A report about him and what he had been doing had spread throughout Galilee
    People had begun to invite him to teach
    And he got boffo reviews    Being praised by everyone.

Knowing that,   I think we have to assume
That there was excitement when he arrived in his own home town
to teach in its synagogue

The people had heard the reports
And they had heard about the praise he was receiving.

Now he was coming home to share with them.
and they were looking forward to it.

The anticipation in the synagogue in Nazareth
had to be like the anticipation in Washington this past Monday
We observed what happened in Washington on Monday.
This is what happened    in Nazareth:.  [4: 16-21]

In Washington, the inauguration
    Took place on an outside balcony of the capitol
a building in which the civil government meets
In Nazareth the event took place inside
Inside a synagogue,
a building in which people worshipped and learned the scriptures.

In Washington, a half million (TIME says million) people gathered
In Nazareth the number had to be far, far less than 1% of that

In Washington,  the people were diverse
    Differences in age, race, religious faith, and gender
In Nazaeth, the people were pretty much identical:
    Jewish men
with perhaps a few gentile proselytes thrown in

In Washington,  the temperatures were around freezing
In Nazareth,    they were not.

In Washington   the President stood when it was time to speak
In Nazareth,    Jesus stood to read, but then sat to teach.

Therefore, what took place in Nazareth
was not an exact clone of what took place in Washington.

The similarities, though, are more important than the differences.

For in both places,     the speakers were speaking publicly
In both places,         the speakers were launching something new
In both places      the speakers were setting forth
                        Their ideas, reasons, and goals
Therefore, to make this story speak to our experience
    I am going to take Jesus out of the synagogue
        And put him on the capitol balcony

Too, I am going to change the wording and order a little bit
    But hopefully preserving the integrity of what he did and what he said.

So now, imagine Jesus up on that balcony
surrounded by countless people - including you and me -
who are standing out on the mall
    Waiting to hear him

He takes the writing of Isaiah's words
He finds the part he wants to read

After finishing the reading
    He rolls up the scroll
    He gives it back to the attendant
And he turns to look out at us.

This is what we have been waiting for:
He is going to speak to you and me.

"My friends, you have heard the words that God gave to Isaiah.

Today, in your presence, they have been fulfilled through me."

I would imagine him pausing
    So that you and I and the others would have the opportunity
        To hear and receive that pronouncement
        And to reflect on what it means.

Then, I hear him saying,

"This scripture has been fulfilled
    Because the Spirit of the Lord is upon me
And because our Lord has anointed me
    As promised through the prophet who spoke the words.

"He has sent and anointed me
    Not to make me famous
    Not to impress you or to pat you on the back

But rather to bring good news to the poor
    And to tell you that this is your task as well
That is,    if you love the Lord.

The Lord, our God, has sent me to this place and this time
    To proclaim release to the captives
    No matter who or what has captured them
        Whether their captors are civil or military authorities
        Or whether their captors are
            Sin or selfishness,
greed, arrogance, or fear

The Lord, our God, has sent me to this place and this time
To proclaim the recovery of sight to the blind
No matter who or what has blinded them
    Whether they have been blinded
by sin and human words
        or  by their own unwillingness to see because they choose to keep their blinders on

The Lord, our God, has sent me to this place and this time
    To let the oppressed go free
    No matter who or what has oppressed them
        Even if we ourselves are the oppressors

The Lord, our God, has sent me to this place and this time
    Not to preserve the status quo
    Not to keep people in power
    Not to make us humanly wealthy
    Not to punish

No! The Lord, our God, has sent me to this place and this time
    To shake things up
    To share God's mercy, love, and forgiveness
        And to convince us we should use those very same gifts
        In our dealings with others
    To restore our correct and humble relationship with God
And To proclaim the year of our Lord
        Instead of the year of ourselves.

My friends,     that is why I am here
            That is how I am to fulfill the prophecy
                God spoke through Isaiah."

And the initial reaction of his listeners was one of excitement and approval.
    For as Luke tells us,
        "All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth."

But the proof of their approval would be in the pudding
    And the pudding would be how they treated others
        Particularly the less fortunate

For people hearing these words could well see themselves
    As poor         rather than well off
    As captives     rather than captors
    As blind victims        rather than blinding forces
And As the oppressed    rather than as oppressors.


But wait a moment,
    In our attempt to understand the scripture
        We put ourselves in the crowd gathered around Jesus
            As he gave his "inaugural address"

What is the proof in our pudding?
    Today's Global Mission Dinner is one place we can give evidence.

And next week, we pick up where we left off
We will see the crowd change - and not for the better
And we will ask
whether we would have changed - not for the better as well.