This morning John M. preached again. I really enjoy John's preaching. A friend's sister says he's a little to excited but I enjoy his animation. The text this morning was Isaiah 61:1-3 which is Jesus' text for his sermon in Nazareth in Luke 4. People tried to kill Jesus for what he said. The focus was on what is the good news. In this passage the Spirit anoints the prophet to bind up the broken hearted. For a picture of the broken heartedness envisioned by Isaiah look at Psalm 137. Jesus comes to heal the brokenness of people who have been torn from the only life and dreams they ever knew and who are cast out from their homes. The Spirit anoints the prophet to release the captives. Jesus comes to those bound in a prison they don't even perceive and says, "You can be free." and releases them from their sin, no matter how ingrained. The Spirit anoints the prophet to comfort those who are mourning. Again there is the image of Psalm 137. He takes their ashes and mourning weeds and replaces them with fragrant oil and festival garments. He turns their mourning into dancing. He makes those who are rootless and wandering into mighty oaks. Our response is to receive his mercy, spend time with the one who changed us and to take on his mission by introducing others to Jesus. It was an inspiring sermon followed by communion and a good time of worship.
We also had a good time with the college guys this morning praying for each other and discussing the question, "What is your life centered on?" My life is clearly centered too much on myself rather than on Christ. It's his mind and life I claim to want, but on my terms. I don't want a cross. At worst I want a sharp scolding after which I can go back to whatever I wanted to do in the first place. I don't want any form of self denial more strenuous than not eating the bag of M&M's in my fridge after I've already had a bowl of ice cream. Denying myself and taking up a cross is way off my actual radar. I might talk about doing it, but I think about making myself happier by the easiest route possible. That's most of the time and it's something I pray he'll change. Talking with C. after church we discussed wanting God for himself and not for anything he can give. We often come wanting forgiveness so we'll not feel guilty when God wants to forgive so we can come closer to him and receive what he wants to give. "But there is forgiveness with you that you might be feared." (Psalm 130:4 NAS).
After church we went to lunch at Chili's and then Steve, Sarah, Anthony, Greg, and I played a couple of games of disc golf at Adler Park. Then we went back to Sarah's sans Greg where we watched Sixteen Blocks and ate pizza.
Verse of the day:
"The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion--
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified" Isaiah 61:1-3 (ESV)