Nov. 28, 2011

Luke 4:18-21

Jesus said, “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.”

Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
So, today I’m going to date myself. When I was growing up, every November we’d get the big Sears & Roebuck Christmas catalog in the mail. Now, these catalogs aren’t like the slim Lands’ End or Eddie Bauer catalogs sent out today. This catalog was about two inches thick!
My family did not get a daily paper, only had three TV channels and really, we didn’t go shopping very much. So, the Sears & Roebuck Christmas catalog is where we kids did our Christmas “shopping.”
I would sit down with this catalog – some 1,000+ pages – and look through page after page. I’d make my Christmas list on a piece of paper, noting the page, item number, color (if necessary), size, etc. And then, I’d post it on the refrigerator or give it to my Mom, as did my sisters.
I put together this list, knowing full well, that I wouldn’t get many of the presents off the list. I’d get a couple, maybe a few. But I could dream. And the Sears & Roebuck catalog allowed me to dream.
As a child, did you put together a Christmas list? How did you come about what went on your list? If you have children or grandchildren, how have they historically put together their Christmas list? Do today’s kids put together a Christmas list different than you did?
In this passage from Luke, Jesus is speaking. It’s at the beginning of his ministry. He has just been tempted by the devil after spending 40 days in the wilderness fasting. Now, Jesus returns to his hometown ofNazareth. He’s going to publically explain to folks who he really is. On a Friday night, he goes to the local synagogue – the house of worship for Jewish folks – and stands up to read. He quotes three passages of Scripture from the prophet Isaiah, reads it, sits down and proclaims that today; these words of scripture have come true! But Jesus’ neighbors don’t like what he has to say. How could this neighborhood boy make such strong statements? He reminded them of how often prophets aren’t accepted in their hometowns. The local people are so disgusted with Jesus; they try to throw him off a cliff! Talk about a nice welcome home!
In this passage, we find at least part of Jesus’ Christmas list. What would Jesus like for Christmas? Let’s look again:

  • Proclaim good news to the poor
  • Proclaim freedom for the prisoners
  • Recovery of sight for the blind
  • Set the oppressed free

These aren’t things that can be purchased out of a catalog. These aren’t wishes that can be put on a list and crossed-off with a visit to an on-line shopping sight. These aren’t things that we normally think of as being on a wish list for anybody.
But they are Jesus’ wish list.
I know that I can’t accomplish all of these things this Advent. But I can do one or two things to help someone. Rick and I choose not to make Christmas lists. In fact, we have never exchanged presents at Christmas. Instead, we give gifts to others in honor of each other. We purchase items for kids from needy families. We identify a family or two that we know are struggling and give groceries, a gas card and/or cash. And we pick at least one charity that we want to support with a contribution. These are what we find most meaningful for our Christmas lists.
As Advent begins, what would you put on your Christmas list? How might you and your family intentionally change how you “shop” and “give” this year? None of us can eliminate all the things on Jesus’ wish list. But we can each do one or two things to help along the way.
Blessings –
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