SERMON DEVLIVERED AT ST. ANDREW’S DEANERY DAY SERVICE 

 THE VERY REV. FR. LEROY JOHNSON

FEBRUARY 12, 2017

THEME:   “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, “ – Called to Ministry in such a time as this     Luke 4: 17-21

Greetings from the wild, wild west.

In our Catechism the question is asked        “What is the mission of the Church?”

Response:   The Mission of the Church is to bring all people into unity with God and with each other in Christ.  (Sounds like mission impossible – isn’t it?)

It further asks     “Through whom does the Church carry out its Mission?

Response:    ”The Church carries out its mission through the various ministries of all its members.”

Both the Catechism and the Canon of the Church state that every baptized person with the Diocese is a member of the Jamaica Church Missionary Society. 

Your theme and Gospel reading suggests that ”We have been given a divine mandate at that point in time, but also the resources to effect same.     My aim then in this sermon it to first of all provide you with the basis for the universal mission of which we are a part; and then to work the theme and text with  a view to affirm and challenge us in our exercise of Ministry – especially in such a time as this.

The story of the fall in Genesis Chapter 3 speaks to humanity’s  inclination to stray from God’s design and purpose for us  – hence we keep missing the mark, and thus threaten our relationship with the divine ground of our being.    

 But the story does not end there; it continues with the high drama of the first game of hide and seek between Adam and Eve and God in the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve were found and thrown out – but not abandoned – for the nature of God is always compelling Him to seek new ways of drawing us into conversation and relationship  e.g. Cain, Enoch, Noah.     In this regard God used the Jewish people to become a catalyst for other nations to be won over to Him.
Throughout the Old Testament Gentiles and Jews and the whole world for that matter, have been the focus of God’s search and rescue mission.  The mission’s emphasis of the Godhead continues with the arrival of God’s Son whose mission statement was “for the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost”( John8:28-29) – which was also reflected in His own ministry.  God’s will is that the mission task is passed on to the Church.     God sent His Son, and the Son sends us.   Jesus declared “as the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (John 20:21).

The early Church accepted this as both a privilege and a responsibility.   David Livingstone summed it up when he said “God had an only  Son and He was both a Missionary and a Physician,   A poor imitation I am or wish to be” unquote.      So then God has reconciled us to Himself in Christ, who has now committed to us the Ministry of Reconciliation  (2 Cor. 5:18).   So we are reconciled and Mission Ambassadors in the world.

Let us now examine more closely the theme and the text ….Luke 4:17-21.    The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, He has anointed me to preach good news to His people under siege.

After some time, Jesus already famous, passed through Nazareth where He was not welcomed.  In this account Luke shows why Jesus attracted so many people and why particularly in Nazareth.  

He was rejected (local boy) .     On the Sabbath He went to the synagogue and took up the scroll and found the place where it is written :”the Spirit of the Lord is upon me….” This paragraph is from Isaiah 61:1-2, the Prophet  is referring to his own mission.

  God sent him to the Jews in exile to announce that God would visit them, yet his words prove even more appropriate in the case of Jesus who was sent in order to bring real freedom to a people waiting for it. 

    By declaring that to day the scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.   Jesus was in fact saying – The days of prophesies and promises are over for I have come to inaugurate a new age in which God becomes present, and reconciles His people.

There are two crucial points that must be registered in the hearts and minds of every would be missionary – if their effort in mission is to prove fruitful.    For Jesus’ mission, and the spirit of mission exhibited by the early Church is not just a description of the way things were, but a prescription of the way things ought to be.   

SO FIRSTLY – our passion for mission will only be heightened when we recognize and accept that we are operating under the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit.      Jesus declared, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me and has anointed me to bring good news.”   

The mission of the Church  involves a clash of two kingdoms – God’s and Satan’s.  Our mission is to mount raids on Satan’s kingdom and free his captives.   The warfare and our weapons are not related to human ingenuity, but spiritual power.  

  So mission is a supernatural activity, and neither the world, the flesh nor the devil yields territory without a fight.   Ephesians 6:12 reminds us that we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and forces of darkness that govern this world so we have to put on the whole armour of God.    

  We need spiritual weapons – such as prayer, scripture, faith and the sword of the Spirit to guarantee victory.     We have to pray for discernment to detect and respond appropriately to the movement of the Holy Spirit in and amongst us.

One of the biggest weaknesses in many of us is a serious lack of conversion.   We are oftentimes considered qualified for the task based on our degrees, our status in society, and financial strength – but these in their own , may I say, are powerless in the mission field.    

Too many of us are not sure of our spiritual status – not sure if we are Christians.  .

Too many of us are ego driven.

Too many of us are crippled by fear –  dancehall and go-go clubs are opened while the Churches are locked down.

Too many of us fail to see the deeper implications of our baptism.

Many Church Committee members are profilers  – no time for their own growth ; – no Retreats, Bible Study, Prayer meetings.     

Organisations move around in circles because they don’t have proper devotions an d seek God’s direction and will in their plans, deliberations and decisions.

So many operate as little private clubs having little or no impact on those they are mandated to serve.      (Blind can’t lead blind).

Some members have no testimony – Jesus is their best kept secret ;

No flame of excitement – when Jesus touches a life and transformation takes place, it evokes a certain kind of reaction, for example the man born blind; the woman at the well; Bartimaeus; the crippled beggar.

So the Holy Spirit has to be a real presence in us for Mission to be effective.  Christ has to be more than a second hand story for us.   Like Peter, we have to b e able to declare that He is the Messiah and Lord of  our lives.    It is only then that we will be convinced that this is still our Father’s world;  that greater is He that is in us than He that is in the world  – and operate like Victorious People.

The Apostles knew this, the early Church knew that they were God’s anointed and Chosen People.    Too many of us are still operating like God’s FROZEN People, too cold – too lukewarm.

At this stage I don’t need anyone to come and convince me that I am the Lord’s anointed, that I am His chosen vessel – for I know

Chorus:   He lives, He lives……………………………………

                               So often I feel like fire shut up in my bones. (sing the chorus)

So successful Mission involves a consciousness of the presence and the equipping of the Holy Spirit.

SECONDLY for Mission to be effective especially in such a time as this, the Church must be aware that it is “under Divine Authority”.   Divine Authority suggests that we have been given an mandate by God from which we cannot back down.  It is a mandate of our Baptism.   Through our Baptism we have been enlisted in the army of Christ.  So being a Christian involves more than just being,  but doing also.

To act a Christ’s ambassadors is both an honour and at the same time a weighty matter.    

 Discipleship must soon result in Apostleship.   To desire Christ without sacrifice said Detrich Bonhoeffer is what he termed “cheap grace”.

Jesus knew that His Mission was spirit led from the moment of His Baptism, the scripture says He was led by the Sprit.    So again in the passage He declares, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because He has anointed me to fulfill a specific mission purpose.  “    To bring good news to the poor, to bind up the broken hearted, release those who are held captive, open the eyes of the blind, to declare the year of the Lord’s favour.       He knew He had no choice but to accept His Father’s will.  Mission demands a surrendering of our will to God’s.   Mission has with it its own share of pain and suffering, as well as its joys and victories.

Jesus gaive up His very life in the process of the world’s redemption.   It is into this life that we are sent, this risky situation, to engage the world especially in such a time like this in which  we must exercise Ministry. – Clergy and laity alike.

We must be prepared to be bruised, scoffed at, rejected, criticized and even put to death –  some of us for the cause of the Kingdom.    Yet we go because we are sent  – and we do so trusting the Divine Wisdom and grace in it all.     We go as the life boat – to rescue the perishing, to care of the dying, to tell them of Jesus the mighty to save.

We are charged with the responsibility of confronting the sins of injustice and oppression, and immorality of all kinds in high and low places.    To be broken with the broken, to mourn with the sad, to be shoulders for the weak; to use every opportunity we get to share the love of Jesus.

We are called to Ministry at a time – 

When evil has taken on new shapes and forces;

When people are operating in the reverse;

When even the Church’s authority to be God’s voice in different places is being called in to question;

A time when if we are not careful even the very elect could lose their way;

A time when greed, lust, materialism, a growing lack of piety, loss of identity, rapid shift in values, relativism – and the list goes on – all confront us.

It is the Church that the Lord sends once again with a Divine Mandate to lead the charge of bringing nations back to Him.    A part of Eucharistic Prayer ‘A’ reads   “Again and again we have turned away from you yet in every age your steadfast love has called us to return to live in union with You: for it is your eternal purpose to put new life into all things and make them Holy.”    So instead of sinking into despair or fear, the Church must take up its rightful position once more. 

 We have to find new and creative ways to reach this generation with the Old Old Story ever new, ever relevant – for Jesus is the only means of salvation.   John 14:16 

We will not reach this generation by sitting in our ivory towers and pray; by winning the first prize for bench warming.    It will only happen through meaningful engagement.   By meeting them where they are. 

  I have found for example – Sports Evangelism and my Domino Ministry to be very effective  – even though a bad word pops out sometimes.   Choose best whatever will work BUT doing nothing is not an option – some members are not moved by these things – they think its not Anglican.   But we have to consider operating out of the box.

The evils of this present time cannot be solved by Scientists, Doctors or the Obeah Man, for Jamaica’s problem is a spiritual one.  – Insufficient love for God, neighbor and self. 

  So when the former Minister of National Security said of the crime situation in Jamaica “That the solution requires divine intervention” he never said a truer thing for with all the different crime fighting strategies, and blame game   –    things are only getting worse.
Through the various Ministries of the Church, guided and directed by the Holy Spirit, I believe that God will redirect His people back to basics. – to a time when people feared God; valued the sacredness of life; loved self and neighbor – and it was counted unto them for righteousness.

Peace and the salvation of humanity is still achievable if we believe, accept and act in partnership with Christ.  We have been given the keys to the Kingdom to bind and to loose.   May we become once again emboldened, open, and obedient to the movement of the Holy Spirit until we become so  “afflamed with Christ”   enabling us to be……………(DUB)

The beacon’s oh yes, the beacons an analogy to fit the Christians

The testimony of our salvation is our light that shines like a beacon

We have to shine all through the night that the world may see it

Bright for the hope of the world are the beacons.

CHORUS:    You can’t be a beacon if your light don’t shine……………

2

So Jesus call us at a time like this

When the world is in deep crisis

And the yute dem a join Isis

And we a cry what is dis, what is dis.
We have to shine like a beacon my friends

Shine the light to the remotest end

Up the road, down the lane, round the bend

Bearing witness to the soul’s best friend.
Ref:     You can’t be a beacon……………….
3

This world is chaos and darkness,

 One hardly receive real justice

People  are so cold and selfish

Often our true self image gets tarnish

Now the Christian has to try to teach men how to live and die

For the Hope of the world are the beacons.
Some Christians only bear the name

Let it neva be said that Saint Andrew is cold and dead

With all your hearts and minds  please try to lift God’s praises very high

For the Hope of the world are the beacons.
Ref:     You can’t be a beacon……………….
4.
Did you hear when Jesus call you

This is a question to each and all of you

The call, the call did you hear when Jesus call you

Did you hear the call, the call?
5
Do you hear Lord Jesus calling

Nuh badda hide if you see Him coming

What about your brother/sister who is crying

Is there a message that you should be proclaiming
Ref:     You can’t be a beacon……………….
Did you hear when Jesus call you

Did you hear when Jesus call you

I think He calls you (-point finger)

And call you

And you,         and you        and all of you.
Today if your hear His Voice harden not your heart.

AMEN

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