"to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor" Luke 4:19
You might have overlooked it amid all the things that Jesus had read from the scroll that day in Nazareth.
Jesus made some compelling claims about being the anointed one – the one who came to preach good news to the poor, to bring freedom to the oppressed, to bring sight to the blind, to release people from captivity.
You might have missed it for all the wonderful things that Jesus called us to be that day. How exciting it is for people of faith to be called to action by the power of the Holy Spirit to bring freedom, vision and comfort to God’s people.
You might not have noticed it, coming at the end of Jesus reading, when he concludes his call to action, the capstone of his mission – to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor!
If you did zoom right past it, then you missed the very core of the Gospel call. To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor is to announce to the world that God loves us so much that we are deserving of the Lord’s favor even though we haven’t shown love for the poor, freed people from oppression, and given sight to the blind. We are freed to do all these things because God has announced forgiveness through God’s son Jesus Christ.
The year of the Lord’s favor is an echo of the Hebrew tradition known as the “year of jubilee.” Every 50th year in Hebrew tradition was a year of extreme forgiveness, one where financial debts were cancelled, foreclosed properties returned to their owners, and a year of celebration of being God’s dearly loved children.
When Jesus then announced the fulfillment of that promise, in his very person, he wasn’t just announcing a one year period of celebration. He was calling into being a new age, a new way of living, a new promise which means we live in the “year of the Lord’s favor” during every moment of our life.
The Spirit’s call to action can be overwhelming at times. There is so much pain in the world, so little vision, so many ways in which people are captive. So much, that it seems that there is nothing that any one person can do to change it.
However, because of Jesus’ proclamation, we are not bound by despair. We are not limited by our failures or the failures of others. We are not captive to the oppressive powers and systems of the world. We are free.
We are free because we live all our lives in the “year of the Lord’s favor”, an age of love, grace and the spirit of forgiveness. Because of this promise, we can go joyfully into the world with hope as we face the difficulties and disappointments of our calls to action. We are free because we are favored by God!
Question for conversation:
How will you live today in faith that we live in the "Year of the Lord's Favor"?
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Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church (GA) in New York City has been chosen as one of eight internship congregations to participate this year in a church-wide initiative designed to increase our understanding of Holy Scripture and most importantly, to cultivate our engagement with it. In partnership with The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, Vicar John Heidgerd will be working to develop innovative ways to deepen our faith formation and sense of discipleship for the sake of ourselves and our communities.