Be the Book

photo by Greg Smith

photo by Greg Smith

In her sermon this morning at Cathedral of Hope UCC, Bishop Yvette Flunder called on those present to follow in the Way of Jesus – the very Jesus who read the from the Book of Isaiah, sat down, and became the Book (Luke 4:14-21).

Jesus’ Reading

Isaiah 61 (NRSV) begins with these words:

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

Jesus’ Doing

photo by Greg Smith

photo by Greg Smith

Bishop Flunder’s message focused on the radical nature of Jesus’ action of reading, sitting, and becoming and what it means for us today.  Jesus’ ministry was about making this passage a reality wherever he went.  And, as importantly, the passage is a call for those who follow the Way of Jesus today to go and do likewise. We must read the Book, and we must be the Book.

We must not worship the Book nor turn to the Book looking for things it isn’t and doesn’t address (e.g., science textbook).   We must be open to the Still Speaking God, and recognize that the canon isn’t closed.  We must be bold to live out our faith, and to bring about a more just world for all people.

So What?

We live in a challenging time when some people are quoting the Book to justify actions that do not recognize every person as made in God’s image and of equal and immeasurable worth. In contrast, we are called to remember that the spirit of the Lord is upon us – a spirit that compels us to fight for the rights of all people.

When the spirit of the Lord is upon us, we will

  • bring good tidings to the poor
  • address the opioid epidemic and lack of universal access to healthcare
  • advocate for unemployed and underemployed and fight for a living wage for all workers
  • work to ensure all people have access to appropriate sources of food, shelter, and education
  • labor in love to see that no one is discriminated against because of who they are, and that all people are afforded basic human rights

Take a few minutes to reflect on this call to “be the Book.”

  • What does it mean to you to move from reading the Book and/or quoting the Book, to being the Book?
  • How is your local congregation or community of faith engaged in the kind of work that occurs when the Spirit of the Lord is upon God’s beloved? How have you or how do you feel called to join them in this work?

Meet the Bishop

Bishop Flunder is Founder and Senior Pastor of City of Refuge UCC, and Presiding Bishop of The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries.   The Rev. Dr. Flunder is a gospel singer, author, civil rights activist, and world changer who has taught in many settings.

Bishop Flunder addressing the Adese Fellows

Last year I was privileged to learn from Bishop Flunder when she served on the faculty of the Adese Fellowship.  Additionally, she hosted the fellows for our final gathering at the City of Refuge.