Lynn Kinlan, ARCWP, and Judy Stamp led the Upper Room Liturgy with the theme: “The Wholeness of the Spirit is Upon Us.” Lynn’s homily reflection follows the readings.
Opening Prayer for Peace and Wholeness:
As we settle into the sanctuary of our community, we acknowledge how we may at times, live our daily lives on the surface, buoyed and tossed about by waves and currents, always paddling. We gaze at objects on the passing shore until the next new concern comes into view.
But when a good deep breath is taken and we slow down, we raise up to see beyond the shoreline. We see a distant and eternal horizon where all is One. We know peace and we touch wholeness.
Rather than cling to the surface, we resolve to seek out peace and wholeness through the Good News of Christ, the anointed One who knows that each of us is a traveler and that we travel together, both nobly and boldly. Amen.
Opening Song: “One Bread One Body” by John Foley
A Reading from Corinthians:
The body is one, even though it has many parts; all the parts - many though they are - comprise a single body. And so it is with Christ. It was by one Spirit that all of us, whether we are Jews or Greeks, slaves or citizens, were baptized into one body. All of us have been given to drink of the one Spirit.
God has so constructed the body so that there may be no division but that all the parts may have the same concern for one another. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it. If one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.
You then, are the body of Christ. Each of us is a member of that body. There is a variety of gifts, but always the same Spirit who distributes them as she wills.
This is a letter from Paul, disciple of Jesus and the community affirms it by saying, Amen.
Gospel Reading from Luke:
Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and his reputation had spread throughout the region. He was teaching in the Galilee synagogues and all were loud in their praise.
Jesus came to Nazareth where he had been brought up. Entering the synagogue on the Sabbath, as was his habit, Jesus stood to do the reading. When the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed him, he unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:
The Spirit of our God is upon me:
Because the Most High has anointed me
To bring Good News to those who are poor.
God has sent me to proclaim liberty to those held captive,
Recovery of sight to those who are blind,
And to let the oppressed go free --
to proclaim the year of our God’s favor
Rolling up the scroll, Jesus gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he said to them, “Today in your hearing, this scripture passage is fulfilled”
This is from the Gospel of Luke and the community affirms it by saying, Amen.
Lynn’s Homily Reflection
Out theme is echoed in scripture across the ages beginning with a selection from Isaiah written after the Babylonian captivity around 550 BC to a letter from Paul that probably dates to 55 AD and then the Luke gospel from around 70 AD. In each, we hear about the power of the Spirit to make us unified and whole, to enable us to live out the Good News even in trying circumstances.
Paul wrote to the Church in Corinth was struggling, its people quarreling among themselves and some even leaving the church. The letter stands as a reminder that disagreements or judgments must give way to our concern for one another, recognition of our need for a wide diversity of gifts and most of all, trust in the One Spirit that brings us together in new and unexpected ways - both inside a worship community and with everyone in our lives.
This is why we stay hopeful and joyous despite divisions within our own families, our church and our nation–because we are graced within ourselves by a faith and a power of Spirit. We are a prayerful people of Word and Eucharist, fueled to be fully inclusive and hope filled. We are companions on a journey and if that journey has a few speed bumps like it did for the people of Corinth, and some shocks like the Jews hearing Jesus, then we ought to be able to manage with hope and love and our wave pool of many gifts.
It is interesting that Paul’s reminder about wholeness in the Spirit is paired today with Jesus reading from Isaiah about how “The Spirit of our God is upon me“. Written 500 years before Jesus read it, these words were familiar to every Jew in synagogue; they’d heard it many times. They probably knew that a few lines later Isaiah moves on to refer to all the Jews returning from Babylonian captivity as “trees of integrity” who will rebuild the temple and who will be called “Priests of Yahweh and ministers of our God”.
So the words Jesus reads apply to the Jews and to us as well as to Jesus – for we are all anointed, members of the same body on whom the Spirit of God rests, all of us called in covenant to bring Good News to a wounded world.
If there were pins at the time, everyone in synagogue might have been able to hear one drop as Jesus sat down and added that Isaiah “is fulfilled today in your hearing”. This was shocking. Maybe that was a reference to himself as Messiah. It’s likely that Jesus was also referring to Good News beyond himself – something head spinning– that the kindom of God is fulfilled right here and right now, that we need not wait for the best time or the end times to live out the promise of the covenant with the help of the One Spirit.
If Paul’s letter and the longer Isaiah verses refer to us all, then let us have confidence and know that the Spirit of God is with us and ours is always a year of favor and grace.
Focusing on these two readings, in a spiritual way above and beyond politics, we welcome you to share briefly about what you have heard.
What do these two readings mean to you? And what will it cost you?
Communion Song: “You Have Anointed Me” by the Dameans
Closing Song: “ Send Down the Fire” by Marty Haugen