In the Gospel of Luke it is described how Jesus began his public ministry. He was in his hometown of Nazareth, in the synagogue, when he was invited up to read from some scripture and say a few words. He was handed the scroll of Isaiah the prophet and we are told he read these words:
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
This Christmastime, perhaps more than any other in my lifetime, I find myself seeking solace in the mission and purpose of Jesus. I have grown so disenchanted with what Christianity has become and come to represent to the world. Rather than lose all hope I choose to cling to the hope of what Jesus represents and how that challenges me to live. If the passage above was what he chose to clarify who he was and what he was charged to do, I also choose it to clarify for me my own sense of purpose moving forward from a desperately challenging 2017 into 2018.
Luke tells us the crowd in that synagogue, after hearing Jesus say that he was the fulfillment of that passage, tried to throw him from a cliff. Religion seems to be leading so many to acts of violence and words of hatred, mostly because of fear. Jesus reminds me that I do not follow a religion and therefore am not defined by fear. I follow him, who is defined by love, justice, truth, mercy and forgiveness.
As we get closer to Christmas, it is the thought of Jesus that lightens my heart and brings me peace. Not so much the Jesus in the manger, but the Jesus standing up and saying boldly what he is about and acting and living that out to a world in fear.