Sermon by Rev. Cindy Corrigan

St Mary’s Nanoose Bay

February 3, 2019

As we sit with open hearts and minds, Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts,

be always acceptable in your sight O Lord, our strength and our redeemer.

Paradigm – Do you know what a paradigm is?  I had to look it up.  It is a word we have heard time and time again but today it has a special meaning.  Paradigm in Christian terms is defined as a widely accepted belief.  As we have listened to todays scripture readings, especially the Second Reading from Corinthians and the Gospel of Luke we see this paradigm - or widely accepted belief - shifting.  Jewish people knew they were the chosen ones, as we read in the OT.  The OT has also been telling the story of the coming messiah.  They didn’t know who that was or when it would happen.  The NT stories are the fulfillment of those scriptures.  Jesus is the fulfillment of scripture.  The paradigm shift in these new testament stories is that the Messiah, Jesus has come to everyone, not just the Jewish people.   “Today, this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing”, Jesus says.  At the end of last weeks Gospel reading and repeated this week as the opening sentence.  Do you think that Jesus is trying to make a statement, to reinforce what all the scriptures stories said about a messiah?    Luke tells Jesus’ story very differently from the other Gospels.  Luke is very much an historian.  He has researched everything he wrote about.  He is recorded as a Gentile Christian and often traveled with Paul.  Luke knew Jesus as a merciful, compassionate prayerful teacher with special concern for women, the poor and non-Jews or Gentiles.  His writing depicts Jesus as a real person and shows how Jesus showed a genuine interest in people from all walks of life - Naaman the Syrian and the woman from Zaraphath in Sidon and the lepers. The people that gathered around Jesus in the synagogue wanted him only to speak to and heal them.  It was their notion that Jesus came only to them, the Jewish people.  They were expecting that their place of privilege would have them saved and put above everyone else.    All spoke well of him, and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth – as a boy they had all seen him growing up, the son of Joseph the carpenter.  They were amazed at how he spoke and with such authority. I want to expand on the word gracious – Jesus could speak so all would listen – graciously.  The word gracious in the Christian belief is defined as showing divine grace.  Divine Grace is the favour of God for HUMANKIND.  That is the part that infuriated them all.   God and Jesus cannot be for all HUMANKIND, he is only for us.  Our Hebrew Bible says that.  The problem is the scriptures were not being read or understood correctly, it was being interpreted to narrowly.  The reading from Jeremiah says “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you”.  God knows each and everyone, not just the Jewish people but everyone, all humankind.    We constantly read and hear that there is one God, a universal God, the same God in different religions.  Jesus for Christians is the difference, Muslims see Jesus as a prophet, Jews see him as a prophet.  We know him as the Son of Man, the manifestation of God on earth.  Jesus is the person who comes to challenge them and us to see this universal God as a lover of all.  Jesus doesn’t fulfil their desires for the king who will lord it over the oppressor, as someone who will right the wrongs of their lives and punish the oppressor.  They want a King.  Jesus is put on this earth to show us the mistakes from the past, to teach us that love is more powerful than hate and that Jesus is that Love incarnate – sent to teach us that faith, hope, and love abound, with love being the greatest.    In 1 Corinthians Paul speaks of love as the most important – without love we are lost.  Love is Jesus – Love is patient, love is kind, love is hopeful, love is truthful and love is forgiving.  Jesus is all these things, he is not the person who will lord it over the others, he is the person who will show us how to love unconditionally.  Loving neighbour as ourselves. Jesus is here to challenge us to understand scripture differently and to act differently because of it.  We can read and begin to understand what is being said and taught but we will never fully know or understand.  That is the message behind this passage from Corinthians, we are fully known by God, from our very beginning and are on a journey of discovery if we only open our mind and heart to hear the scripture passages in a different and love filled way.   The paradigm shift in this Gospel passage is Jesus suggesting that we are not the centre of all of God’s favour.  He tells the people of Nazareth some of their own traditional stories about God showing favour to the woman from Sidon and a Syrian when there were plenty of Jews needing the same help.  This rubbed wrong his listeners paradigm and they ran him out of town.  They weren’t ready for a paradigm shift.  Jesus was saying that God does not just favour Jews, but all people.  He is saying “You folks are not the centre of Gods universe, the sun doesn’t revolve around you”.  Are we able to hear the same message?  God does not only favour Christians.  God does not favour only those of our brand of Christianity.  God does favour all – gays and straight, poor or rich, men and women, homeless and underhoused, employed and unemployed, Jew, Gentile and Muslim”.    I pray that we all will hear the words of scripture through new ears and will have a paradigm shift of our own as we read and understand scripture in a new way each day as a more inclusive and welcoming people of God.   AMEN