"We need a mission statement." Hospitals, corporations and congregations spend hours and hours crafting cogent and concise sentences that express their purpose. I've been involved in more than a few of those writing sessions. We have always emerged with fine statements. We have not always managed to live out the mission they so eloquently expressed.
Jesus doesn't bother to craft a new mission statement for himself. He draws on Isaiah, who, centuries earlier, articulated God's good news for those living in exile in Babylon. I am struck by how down-to-earth this mission statement is. The poor, the captives, the blind and the oppressed are specifically mentioned. They are the "target audience" of Jesus' mission.
If you belong to a Christian congregation, does it have a mission statement? How does it compare to the one Jesus gives us here? Recent surveys of young people who have distanced themselves from the Christian church report that they are dissatisfied with the inward looking character of most congregations. Might these young people be the prophetic voice that we need to heed? Might they be the ones who can summon us to draw closer to the mission of Christ in this broken world?
O Lord and Master, we have been brought into your body by baptism and commissioned to follow you. May your mission so shape and guide our actions that we can truly be your disciples. Amen.
Luke 4:14-21 (NRSV)
14 Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country.
15 He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.
16 When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read,
17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
18 "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free,
19 "to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
20 And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.
21Then he began to say to them, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."