Homily: January 24, 2016

January 24, 2016, YEAR C; Rev. Phil Boelter, Vicar Remember Git R done?

 

That’s Larry the Cable guy’s slogan.

 

But it could also be the theme of our gospel reading this morning.

 

Jesus returns to his hometown of Nazareth in Luke Chapter 4

As a golden boy.

 

His fame has preceded him-

Healings, miracles, great preaching.

 

So all eyes are on Christ

as he stands up in the crowded synagogue

and takes Isaiah’s scroll to read.

 

He unrolls the crisp parchment

And reads in a loud voice

From the Prophet Isaiah:

 

“The Spirit of the Lord has anointed me.

Good news is preached to the poor!

Release to the captives

Sight for the blind!

Freedom for the oppressed

The Lord’s favor for everyone!”

 

And then comes the one sentence sermon:

 

“Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

 

Powerful words!

Jesus is about to launch into his public ministry-

And this is his one sentence inauguration speech.

 

But this is not the first time the Jewish law has been read in public

To great effect..

 

The gospel reading this morning is paired with another account of a public reading.

 

Nehemiah wrote his book to record

the children of Israel returning to Jerusalem

and rebuilding the walls around 445 B.C.

 

Jerusalem had a temple

but there was no protection for the city from further attack.

 

So, Nehemiah travels to Jerusalem

and uses his leadership skill to rally a citywide construction crew.

Within a few weeks, the walls around Jerusalem were built

and standing tall and their enemies lost their confidence.

 

This is the source of the slogan which comprises our domain name

At Gethsemane:

A mind to work.org

 

And the same scripture is emblazoned on the bronze plaque

Just outside our historic church.

 

It’s from Nehemiah 4:6

 

“So we built the wall.

And all the wall was joined together to half its height,

for the people had a mind to work.”

 

But something happened after Chapter 4-

The people encountered opposition in their quest to finish the job.

They grew discouraged.

 

And so the leaders call for a service of the Word-

They unroll the scroll

And read from the words of the Law,

Just as Jesus did 500 years later.

 

What’s the connection here?

 

Just this-

 

That God always puts us to work…

…. But God also gives us the resources to get the job done.

 

Like our Hebrew brothers and sisters in the first reading,

We at Gethsemane Church face a daunting task.

 

This great old church is the biggest evidence of God’s presence on our block-

Here at this corner.

 

And back in the 1800’s

This church was built with blood and sweat and tears

From hundreds of people who gathered together

All with a mind to work.

 

The world has changed in the last 160 years-

Some of you sitting here remember this church’s glory days-

Full pews, bulging Sunday School classes,

Choir processionals a block long.

 

Here we are today-

Much smaller, poorer,

seemingly hanging on for dear life.

 

But let me tell you something.

This neighborhood needs us now more than ever.

This world needs a gospel witness not less

But more than any time in our long and illustrious history.

 

Like the Hebrews of old,

Like our Lord Jesus in the synagogue

We who are gathered here are being called out---

Individually and together

To work for a kingdom

Whose culmination we can but dimly see.

 

We are being called to Git R done!

 

The good news is that what God has called us to do,

God will give us the resources to do.

 

It will take three things:

 

It takes time-

This is no instantaneous makeover

Like some home renovation on HGTV-

A half hour and you’re done!

 

It took generations to rebuild the temple and then the walls of Jerusalem

After the people returned.

 

Likewise,

The kingdom gospel Jesus proclaimed

began to spread out by fits and starts-

 

12 disciples,

then Tiny groups of believers

Gathering in private homes to worship,

Huddled in catacombs and forest glens,

To hear God’s word and receive God’s grace in assembly together.

 

Here at Gethsemane

The long labor of generations is what we rely upon for our strength.

 

That’s where we begin today.

 

To Git r done we need time.

 

We also need persevereance.

 

There are lots of obstacles to our success-

Lack of resources,

Fear, ignorance confront us

As they confronted the children of Israel

And believers in Jesus time.

 

But we will win through.

 

Why?

 

Because we have been anointed by God’s Spirit,

Blessed by God’s presence,

Heartened by God’s word and the fellowship we share.

 

Come on.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon us.

We have a mind to work.

 

Let’s git r done.

 

Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SermonRev. Phil Boelter