Sermon at 1st Presbyterian Church Lockhart
"Godís, Anointing Grace "
Jeremiah 1:4-10, Psalm 71:1-18, I Corinthians 13:1-13, Luke 4:21-30
†††††††††† In our day-to-day existence, as the people of God, we sometimes donít realize Godís call upon our lives.† How God has called and anointed us to be a part of His Plan in redeeming the creation.† Le us look into the readings, and see how God is acting in and through the history and life of his people.† It is given to us with the light of Godís intentions focused upon His anointing, and His Grace through his Word to His prophets.† It is the living God who demonstrates that he is the God of action, the God of love, and the God of refuge to those who believe on Him.
†††††††††† In the reading from Jeremiah, we see that Godís decision to call Jeremiah came prior to his birth.† God is setting apart Jeremiah in anointing him.† This Ďsetting apartí is the Old Testament way of identifying as ďHolyĒ.† The person or object is separated.† They are set apart from the common, to a ďseparateĒ or ďHolyĒ use by, and for God.† Jeremiah is set apart Ďbeforeí God formed him in the womb.† We as Presbyterians would say, he was predestined to be Godís prophet, to Godís people.†
†††††††††† In Jeremiahís call there are several elements in the dialogue between him and God.† We have God calling him in his anointing, ďI appointed youĒ.†† We see Jeremiahís humanity in his response Ė ďWho me?Ē† ďI canít speakĒ.† ďIím only a childĒ.† How many times are we unsure of our ability to do something beyond our skill-set.
†††††††††† It is like a plant manager coming up to you, the operator, and asking you to manage a production line.† The first thing you do is focus on the skills and talents that you donít have, and not on the ones that you do have that can develop your potential
as a manager.†
†††††††††† God, is a God of action.† When he anoints Jeremiah it is done with Grace.† He comforts him, tells him ďI am with youĒ, he reassures him ďI will rescue youĒ, he puts His Word in his mouth and he ďappoints himĒ.
†††††††††† In this reassurance, Jeremiah is told to go where God tells him, and say what God commands him.† Isnít this where we individually, and as a community normally tend to hesitate?† We know that we are called to be Godís representative, and we know the job wonít be easy.† Sometimes we stall on take off.† We have had doubts about whether we can do a job, or not.†
Just as a Child of God, we are a moral agent.† It is part of our call in our example, in our actions, and in our decisions as an Elder, as a Congregation, and as a Pastor.† My personal call has been a journey that started in 1967 (Letter from Seminary), in 1978 (became an Elder), in 1994 (started Seminary classes), in 2005 (began Lay ministry). They never said the journey would be short or it would be easy.†
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†††††††††† Jeremiahís call by God was not an easy task; it was Godís anointing call to action, in the reassuring and proclaiming Grace of the God who called him.† Look at the action verbs in Jeremiahís call. -† uproot,† tear down,† destroy,† overthrow, †to build, and to plant. Jeremiahís call and words not only effected his generation, but future generations, to put their trust in Godís Word.
†††††††††† In the verses from Psalm 71, we see the anointing God of refuge.† It is the call of the faithful believer to God to help him, in his call, to follow God.† The psalmist proclaims how God is the God who delivers and saves us.† He proclaims his awareness of his trust and confidence in God, in all things, through out his life.†† God is the reason to always have hope, and is the source of our salvation.† With a New Testament point of view, we see an overlay of Christís anointing call.† How in our humanity we call upon God to deliver and to save us.† In it echoes Christís call and proclaiming the Good News
Verse 15 ďmy mouth will tell of your righteousnessĒ, Verse 16 ďI will proclaim your mighty actsĒ, and Verse 18 ďI declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.Ē† It demonstrates how aware the psalmist is of his call in being a witness for Godís saving grace and salvation.† Seen in his willingness as he states:† I will come,† I will proclaim,† I declare,† I will always have hope.†† We see the God of action in Godís anointing and Godís Grace.† He promises to be with us and protects us.
The reading from I Corinthians is a continuation of Paulís teaching about the Body of Christ follows the chapter from last Sunday.† These verses are usually associated with the love between husband and wife.† But it is also about the graciousness of Godís love.† It is a demonstration about relationships within the Body of Christ, and how we are called into relationship to care for, and about one another.†† Paul uses the physical example of the parts of the body, and lays it over the congregation, in using the analogy as an example of the gifts of the congregational Body of Christ.† Demonstrating how Godís graciousness is fulfilled in love.† Our gifts like knowledge, speaking, and prophesy, are all good, but will fade away in light of the consistency of Godís love. †This is the element that will out last all other qualities in our character.† It is realizing, God chooses us, for salvation and for participation in His creation.
In living this example and choosing to demonstrate Godís love and Godís character as the Body of Christ, we reflect the qualities and behavior of our creator.† All of this we cover with a blanket of love.† It is a blanket woven from the fibers of our hearts, and with the fibers of Godís character.† It is the color, and hue in all of the fabric of being a part of the congregation, and the church.
God has appointed different gifts, and how we reflect Godís graciousness in love.† God joins the different talents and personalities of a congregation into one working Body, are like the physical Body, and are all interdependent.†
Just as this church is interconnected, both within this congregation, and connected with other congregations, it demonstrates the one body of Christ.† Paul uses this analogy to teach the early Christians how they are to be as one.† This is the ďmost excellent wayĒ he is talking about.† Just as Jeremiah was anointed and called by the God of Action; we are called, to be gracious by the God of Love.
In the Gospel of Luke, we see Jesus anointed in the power of the Spirit, reading in the synagogue of his home congregation.† He reads from Isaiah 61:1-2.† These verses reveal God's plan and intent for his people.† It shows God's heart in redeeming not just his people but the marginal and the gentiles.† When this happens,† his people will be called "oaks of righteousness", and a "planting of the Lord".† It is an outline of the "Good News" in the coming of the Messiah and the acts of his redemption in restoring the creation as God intended it.
Christ demonstrates in this reading how he is not only part of the body of that congregation, but also a part of the greater body of Godís people Israel.† He shows how they were connected in the Law, and as a part of Godís plan.† Jesus announced the purpose of his ministry and his identity as the Messiah.
But he has also left off the second half of Verse 2.† "and the day of vengeance of our God."† He is declaring his coming and his purpose to redeem and to save all people.††
He has left the "day of vengeance" to God, and to His second coming.† He declares the prophesy, he has read, as ďbeing fulfilledĒ. He does this with gracious courage.†
His home congregation has demanded that he work a miracle for them.† He shows them how the prophets were not welcomed by their own people and healed outsiders:† Elisha - healed only one man - Naaman a Syrian Ė a gentile.† Elija cleansed a woman from Sidon Ėa marginal person who was a gentile. He has (in his call) showed them their unbelief.† They want him to heal someone, not to glorify God, but so they can brag about having a miracle done in their town.† It is for all the wrong reasons. This is what causes the people of Nazareth to threaten to throw Jesus off of the hill.† Yet he ďwalks right through the crowdĒ with a gracious courage, described by Jeremiah, and the Psalmist.† It is Jesus trusting in his call and his anointing.† They yield to the presence of his integrity and his power that comes from God.† They donít want to take the risk.
Thereís no Medal of Honor winners in this crowd.
†††††††††† Yet Jesus, greater than the prophets, has healed the blind, released the oppressed, preached good news including the poor and marginal in the plan for Israel.† He is speaking as, and for God.†† He is including the marginal and the gentiles as part of Godís redemption and salvation. He demonstrates his love and his connection to all of the people.† He does this in his anointing and his grace.
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†††††††††† This is also an illustration of how God's light shines through us, as the Church.
It is our call to inspire and bring the light to the world, and be the example of Jesus, the One we follow.† We, like Jeremiah, are anointed in grace, by a God of action.†
We are to be gracious in our call.† It is our connectedness that helps us to proclaim the Good News of Godís love. We are anointed to be the living examples of Godís graciousness, and the example of what it is, to be in, and doing God's Will, as a Child of God, and as the People of God.†
We are all inter-dependant.† We are all called to be one, in the Body of Christ.† We are called to be one in the Spirit, and we are to do this in the light of Godís anointing grace in our livesÖ..
In the Name of Ö. The Father,† The Son,† and The Holy Spirit.