I was reminded, with only a couple of days to spare, that my February magazine letter is due! As Editor Blair wrote, “I forgot to remind you on Sunday that the minister’s monthly magazine missive is due”. With last Sunday’s lections still resounding in my ears,
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted,
to proclaim release to the captives,
recovering of sight to the blind,
to deliver those who are crushed,
and to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”
all I could think of is how overwhelmed I am with the world around me, as I see it at the moment. As the media illustrates, day after day, gazillions of people believe a whole bunch of codswallopacious baloney about all manner of things: Brexit, the state of ecosystems and climate change, the sanity, or otherwise, of national leaders and presidents, and the sustainability of the current commercial economic order, and … and … and. I wonder how honest we are as individuals, as Christians, as Church. O.K., so I should steer clear of politics but, hang on, there is something pretty crucial for us to at least mention.
Why God’s Spirit came hurtling down on Jesus at his baptism was actually to empower him to do precisely this: to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives, to recover sight to the blind, to let the oppressed be free, to proclaim the jubilee of the Lord’s favor, when the economy and all things influencing global equity will be conformed anew to God’s justice, which we know in the very life lesson of Jesus himself. Am I wrong in my seemingly all too vivid recollection of my own personal apprehension of reality in my own national bubble? The appeal seems too often to be to a Jesus from establishment circles, aligned with preservation of a pervasive and divisive, monetarist, aggressively competitive, individualistic, colonialist and ‘me, or us first’ hegemony.
For myself, I feel the need to more and more reconcile with a gospel that really did proclaim itself as “good news to the poor”. The Jesus I know says it simply and clearly: his everyday interactions in the record we have of him, places his concern for the reality of life for the poor, the vulnerable young, asylum seekers and everyone living on the margins. God preserve us from believing that the gospel imperative of selflessness has legitimately been replaced by selfishness as the ultimate blessing and goal of life. My God does care about us all, the good and the less good, the rich and the poor, the wrong doer and the severely wronged. In the end God, my God, intends justice for victims of violence, sin and terror, and, indeed, transformation to perpetrators of hatred and heartless indifference.
Love, as ever, Brian.