“He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:16–19)
In the recently published book, “The Myth of the American Dream” the author writes about coming face to face with Luke 4,
“For many of us, our lives have been carefully designed to follow certain values: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, perhaps. When I started to meditate on Luke 4, on taking Jesus at his word that this is the work he came to do, my own unspoken values started to shimmer to the surface. I began by asking questions: What is the opposite of poor? Of captivity, blindness, oppression? As I meditated on this question, the answers surprised me. The answers, it turned out, were the defining values of my life, the ones I was perpetually striving for, all in the name of a ‘good’ life.”
As we face down COVID 19 many of us have lost things along the way and those loses have turned to sorrow, anger, unhappiness, tears and more.
As followers of Jesus many of us hear the call to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. As followers of Jesus we know that Jesus did not shy away from tears (John 11) nor does he expect us to be stoic in these hard days. So be sure to grieve your loses, take them seriously.
At the same time these loses call us to ask kingdom questions about our churches:
- Did we lose something central to our identity as followers of Jesus?
- Did we lose something that means we can’t carry out our kingdom calling?
- Are we deeply grieving something that reveals our lives were less kingdom focused than we professed?
Or to use the idea from “The Myth of the American Dream”, what does this moment reveal about our congregation
- What we believe true riches are (what’s the opposite of poor?)
- What we believe being set free is (what’s the opposite of captivity?)
- What we believe having sight is (what’s the opposite of blindness?)
- What we believe justice consists of (what is the opposite of oppression?)
Will discerning the above reveal the heart of our congregation’s values?
Will discerning the above reveal godly loses that truly cause us to cry out in godly lament?
Will discerning the above reveal where we may be lamenting those things we actually are meant to lose from a kingdom perspective?
Will discerning the above open up our lament that goes beyond what congregations have lost and join today’s lament with the lament that’s been spoken by Native Americans, Refugees, African Americans and a host of others for 200 years? Will this moment end our insulation from one another as we join the lament of multiple communities?
Will our lament now keep us lamenting for others later, for those who long for the words of Jesus in Luke 4 to come true?
What has your congregation lost in COVID 19? What are you lamenting? What do your laments reveal about your values, your heart toward the laments of others, and what your congregation will value on the other side of COVID 19?