Narrative Lectionary, Year 3, January 29, 2017
Lessons: Luke 6:1-16, Psalm
Theme: God’s faithful and generous people are called to consider what is good and right and needed, rather than simply what is lawful.
Key Scripture: Then he said to them, “The son of man is lord of the sabbath.” Luke 6:5
In this week’s lesson Jesus continues to amaze, confound, and irritate folks with his unconventional approach to the law and his single-minded sense of purpose and ministry. He’s been run out of his hometown synagogue (Luke 4:29), he’s been healing the sick and rebuking demons, teaching the multitudes and calling disciples to come with him and fish for people, and thoroughly annoying the religious leaders by
forgiving sins and breaking sabbath laws. What gives?
We learn a lot about Jesus in these sixteen verses, a lot of which we can—and should—apply to our life as his disciples today. Jesus’ model for ministry doesn’t stand for a lot of human rules, regulations, and expectations. He is strongly connected his power source (God, the Father), and he spends time apart in prayer and rest (verse 12). In short, Jesus is grounded in what he needs to do and is clear about why he’s doing it.
The message for us today is to be deeply grounded in prayer and relationship with God. This is essential before we do anything else. Being deeply rooted and connected to our Creator helps us through dry spells and difficult times. In prayer and sabbath we are reminded that it’s not about us and our successes or failures in ministry, but rather about God’s desire to save and nature to love. We are God’s people, and we are called to rest in God and be strengthened and equipped for God’s work in the world. When we are deeply connected to our Creator it is much easier to make the right connections in our daily lives and work.
Jesus puts people first. He truly cares about feeding, healing, and teaching folks. He isn’t bound by human rules and religious expectations. If someone is hungry on the Sabbath, shouldn’t she be fed? If a person is in need of healing and forgiveness of sins, shouldn’t that be done? On the Sabbath should one do good and preserve life, or do harm and destroy life? In short, Jesus uses common sense according to God’s way of being. We are asked to put people first, too. We are expected to not let our “religion” get in the way of God. We are to care for one another as Jesus cares for us.
Will we face opposition to this approach? Absolutely! If Jesus met opposition, shouldn’t we expect a little drama, too? Look at the landscape of our current social and political landscape. This is both a great time to be the church and a challenging one. We must choose a higher path, rejecting gospels of glory and success and instead take up our cross.
Throughout the Bible, Jesus also doesn’t wait for an opportune time to do the work of ministry. He is ready to respond, even when it flies in the face of established order. We are called today to step into the messy work of ministry when opportunity and need arise. We don’t wait for tomorrow. We don’t look for an easier path. We don’t take the safe route. We meet needs, heal brokenness in Christ’s name, and do all the good we can whenever we can.
Finally, from our lesson we learn that we don’t do this work alone. Jesus calls disciples to join him on the journey. He teaches and equips others to do the work of the kingdom. We must become an inviting people, always making welcome and encouraging others. We make a place at the table for all people, confident of the gifts they bring to the feast. Together, we become far more than we could ever be alone.
How might you share this good and challenging news with the people with whom you serve and work? What is holding your congregation back from 24/7 discipleship, from doing what is right and good rather than what is expedient, safe, and expected? Are we dying to self in order to live for Christ, or are we living for self and dying on the vine because we are not rooted in prayer and relationship with our Creator? What might it take to reroot and re-boot our faith and truly follow the lord of the Sabbath?
Blessings on your preaching and teaching and on your faithful encouragement and equipping of your community for the work of Christ in the world. May God restore and strengthen you and give you peace.
We are Called
Based on the example of Jesus’ way of ministry that we read about in our lesson this week, why not run with the idea of asking folks in your congregation to ponder some of these questions:
What are the challenges of being a faithful disciple of Christ today? What trials and tribulations do you face (if any)? Conversely, what are the joys of faith and discipleship? Where do you see God at work? What are the signs of gospel’s living hope in your community? In the world? How do you experience the Creator’s abundant blessings? How can you best share and be a steward of God’s abundance?
Have folks consider their own discipleship walk, their service within the body of Christ, and their sense of call or vocation in the “priesthood of all believers.” If possible give them some time to discuss this openly with others. If your people aren’t talkers, give them a bulletin insert on which to ponder these questions.
Called to Serve
What does it mean to be called to serve, even when it puts you in the path of resistance or difficult choices? How can you faithfully respond like Jesus? What do you do when your faith calls you to differ with those in power, whether in your denomination or in your country?
Consider watching a film about an ordinary person who made a real difference by choosing to follow the right path and do what is both good and right rather than following the direction set by powers and principalities. Choose a story that will resonate with your context and your youth.
What God Wants
We learn something very important about Jesus this week. He took time to pray and spend in relationship with God his father. He made time for what is really important before he went out to do the work of ministry. This reminds us that we need to do that, too.
Make a simple tri-fold table topper with prayers for meals, for morning and night, for being people of love and hope, and for teachers, workers, and governments. Add whatever short prayers are appropriate for your context. Give each child a copy, show them how to fold and tape it, and encourage them to take time several times each day to pray. Tell them that prayer makes them stronger in faith and brings them closer to God.
Let them know that you will be keeping them in prayer by name all week long. Finish with a simple prayer. Mail each child a postcard at some point during the week to let them know that you have been praying for them.
Weekly Stewardship Bulletin Insert
God doesn’t simply call the experts, the intellectual elites, the wealthy, and the powerful to serve and lead. Quite the contrary! All are called—and equipped by the power of the Holy Spirit and in community with the faithful—to serve and follow Jesus. That means each one of us is responsible for discerning the gifts and talents God has given us and using them to strengthen the Body of Christ for the sake of the world. How are you using your gifts and talents? What do you need to release their full potential within our faith community? Spend time with God in prayer this week as you seek guidance and wisdom to steward the gifts and opportunities to serve that God is giving to you.
Stewardship at Home
Five x Five
This week make it a point to spend five minutes in prayer five times each day. Of course you can spend much more time in prayer if you want! Find prayers for meals, for morning and night, and be sure to pray for those in need of hope and healing. Pray for your leaders, for our creation, for peace. Consider keeping a prayer notebook or journal if you like to write and draw. Follow Jesus’ example of taking time to pray and spend time with the God who loves you so very much.
Photos: katerha, lel4nd, and SOLI, Creative Commons License. Thanks!
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