“The Mic-Drop Moment”
Pastor Todd Buegler
January 23 & 24, 2016
Grace and peace to you from God our Creator, and from Jesus, the Son of God who fulfills the prophecies! Amen.
I love movies. I do. I love going to movies…I love watching movies…I love being drawn in to good stories. And if you’ll allow me to make a confession, I am one of those probably slightly obnoxious, geeky people who remembers and loves movie quotes. When I gather with my friends, we have been known to have long conversations, made up entirely of quotes from movies we had seen. It’s sort of a Hollywood “nerd-fest.”
Like me, there may be lines from movies that you remember. Great movies have great lines that stand out, like:
- “May the force be with you” (Star Wars)
- “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” (Jaws)
- “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.” (Forrest Gump)
- “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship” (Casablanca)
- “Just keep swimming” (Finding Nemo)
- “We’re on a mission from God” (the Blues Brothers)
Yes, I love these quotes. They represent the moments we remember in the midst of a great story.
Our gospel lesson for today is centered on, built on, a great quote…a line…words of Jesus that reveal to his followers more about who he really is. The line is: “Today, this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
To get why Jesus said this, we have to understand what he was doing: In the synagogue, men had the opportunity to participate in the time of reading and learning. A man would volunteer to read a passage from the scrolls of the Old Testament, and then afterwards, he would sit down and explain what those passages he read meant to him.
So on this day, Jesus was taking his turn in the synagogue to read the lesson and then to explain it. He picked a lesson that was very familiar to the Jews, a lesson that stirred up their hearts and their passions. This passage from Isaiah was a passage of hope, a passage of deliverance, a passage that reminded the Jews that God was indeed still with them, still caring for them. This was a great passage to read, because it was one of the favorite passages from their ancient traditions. Then Jesus closes the scroll, hands it back to the attendant to put away and returns to his seat. All the eyes and the minds of the men present follow him, for they know that he will now explain the passage, he will teach this passage to them.
Jesus sits, and to his expectant crowd, he drops the bombshell: “Today, this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” To those who heard Jesus say this…jaws would have dropped…there would have been a gasp…this was the quotable quote they would have remembered, and re-told to all their friends and family. “Jesus said that he is the fulfillment of the scriptures! Can you believe it?”
The Jewish people would have been blown away by what Jesus said. Remember that they had been defeated, exiled, scattered and then allowed to return, but as second-class citizens. They were trying to rebuild their ruined lives, but it wasn’t going very well. They were discouraged; they thought God had abandoned them. Times were hard; food was scarce and hopes for the future were in short supply. But the scripture from Isaiah that Jesus reads promises Good News, freedom, and God’s favor. The scripture promises that God is here, He will deliver, He will save, He will restore you as a mighty nation.
But Jesus goes one step even farther. He didn’t mean that just one nation would be restored. Jesus was talking about a spiritual restoration; for the whole world, not just the nation of Israel. Jesus was saying that all these things they had been hoping and praying for would become real…through him. This was the “Mic Drop” moment.
So as people of faith, when we hear these words of Jesus, what does it mean for the choices we make? For how we live? And if we confidently believe that Jesus is the fulfillment of these scriptures, how can we help others to experience that, and to have that same confidence? To apply the most Lutheran of questions: “What does this mean?”
I have a friend named Cindy, who lives now in North Carolina. But when I met her, she was a hospital administrator at North Memorial, in the Twin Cities. Every year in church, Cindy would hear people come back from mission trips and share how powerful, meaningful and transformative these experiences were.
And Cindy desperately wanted to participate and to share. But she told me several times that she wasn’t sure how. She couldn’t do construction, she wasn’t a doctor or a nurse; she just didn’t know what gifts she could bring to the table. “I want to do this, but I just don’t know what I’ve got to give” she once told me.
But then one day in worship, she had an epiphany. She told me: “I’m not a doctor or a nurse, but I am an administrator. Maybe they could do something with that.” Cindy found a medical mission team to sign up with and she tagged along. But instead of working with patients, she spent her time with the administrators at the clinic. And she discovered that these clinics in these African cities and villages needed lots of education about systems they could put in place administratively that would help them to run better…to be able to heal more people. “I can do that!” she said.
And so she founded “Global Health Administration Partners,” a non-profit organization which works with hospitals in Ghana, Cameroon, Ethiopia, India, Liberia, Madagascar, Nigeria and Tanzania. Places where there is desperate need. And she and her volunteers help them with their infrastructure…their systems…their resources. And she left her job, and now Global Health Administration Partners is her full-time gig.
Cindy knows the promises of God; she believes Jesus fulfills those promises; she saw the need…she found the way her gifts match, and she went.
The promise that we believe Jesus fulfills is that God will tend to the oppressed. And what is Jesus’ plan for how to do this? It’s you and me! We’re it! We are God’s plan. And this means we go. We go out. We go and do. It means that the Sanctuary in which we sit and worship every week, this space, is not a destination, but rather is a launching place.
And the text from Isaiah defines “freeing the oppressed” for us. It means to giving liberty to all those who are oppressed because of disease, lack of food, shelter or clothing, those who are discriminated against because of race or their faith, and those who are even oppressed by their gender. And my friends, that is not limited to people around the world.
43% of the children in the Owatonna schools are on free or reduced lunch. And our own high school has identified 16 young people as being homeless. That’s the number they know about, which means the actual number is probably more than that.
We have heard, and we believe Jesus’ claim that the scriptures…the prophecies…the word of hope and freedom is fulfilled in him. So what do we do?
We go and do. Every week in Fellowship Hall, people gather on Sunday nights to serve a meal to those who otherwise might not have one. Meals of Hope draws anywhere from 75 to 125 people here for a good, warm meal.
And 25 families receive meals through Wildcat Pantry, as volunteers organize and shop, packing food along with recipes so families receiving assistance during the week can also have meals on the weekend. Those Trinity people who volunteer for this ministry…they have heard Jesus’ promise, and so they go and do. They become the hands and feet of Christ, fulfilling the scriptures.
We go and do. We send teams to serve in places like Jamaica, and Ethiopia, and Chile, and Pine Ridge, and West Virginia, and Chicago, and Duluth and the Twin Cities and Owatonna. These teams have heard the Words of Jesus, and so they go and do. They become the hands and feet of Christ, fulfilling the scriptures.
And this is great…but lest we become too proud of ourselves, we must remember that there is so much more that needs to be done.
Jesus’ words remind us that God has now entered the world as flesh so that no human can be overlooked. No one can be left in a place of oppression. No one is unworthy of God’s good news.
And so I invite you, you who have heard the Good News, this quotable quote: Pray, dream and wonder…what might God be calling you to do? Maybe it’s to connect with one of our existing ministries. Or perhaps there is a new dream…a new ministry…a new way of serving? How might you “go and do?”
We are the body of Christ, and God intends Trinity Lutheran Church to bring change to the world; to be the hands of salvation, to bring healing to the diseased, food to the hungry and comfort to the oppressed.
Hear Jesus’ words: “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in our hearing.” This is the quotable quote…the mic-drop moment. Today salvation has come to you. Yes, God’s salvation is here, it is present in our world; and Jesus places it in your hands to tend and to share. Let’s go and do. Thanks be to God.