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Proclaim the Good News of God in Christ through Word and Deed

Dear Friends,

I’ve had my Bible out all day looking at this passage from the Gospel of Luke 4:14-21. It is so beautiful and full of history and vision. It has two of my favorite books of the Bible bookended together in one passage.

A quick recap: Jesus went into the synagogue in Nazareth and read the Hebrew text from the prophet Isaiah written around 700 BCE.

“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,19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”20 And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

All eyes were on Jesus. If we were to continue reading, we would learn that, at first, they are very proud of him. But they quickly turned on him when he spoke again saying, "in the days of Elisha, there were many people in need, and no one helped them." He implied the same was happening that very day. The crowd got so mad that the people tried to throw Jesus off of a cliff. I read that over and over again today. The people tried to throw Jesus off of a cliff, but he got away.

To hear that the Spirit of the Lord upon him feels good to us as readers today. How quickly people took sides and judgment when Jesus told the people there had been hurt, hunger, feeling outcast and forgotten for generations upon generations. Jesus ruffled their feathers and they reacted by trying to throw him Jesus off of a cliff.

How do we hear this message today? The Holy Spirit revealed then and reveals today that our God is indeed compassionate and merciful. Yet, do we respond with thanksgiving or react with distrust, fear, and anger?

Our sermon series on being baptized continues this week in worship. A great question is: "Why would you or I want to be part of Jesus’ ministry to heal, to comfort, and love another person, especially a stranger, neighbor or forgotten friend?" We are promised, not by our hand but as a gift from God, that the Holy Spirit dwells with us in our hurts, sorrows, joys and challenges of this life. How do we respond to this gift of grace from God?

We had a great night at WYN talking about refugees in our community and more to come. Thank you to Katie Splean, from the McAuley Center in Cedar Rapids. Thanks to Else Schardt, for sharing her story when she was a refugee as a child because of WWII. And huge thank you to all the youth for the gingerbread house activity and group purchase of food with Thrivent Action Dollars.

Join us on Sunday as we talk about baptism in worship, host Family Sunday School at 9:40, and take a first look at our annual reports in adult forum.

Peace to you always,

Pastor Katie

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