Isaiah 61: 1-9
LUKE 10: 25-37

January 20, 2019

And, the angel of the Lord said to the shepherds … “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for ALL … yes, ALL the people …”

And, John said, “I baptize you with water but the one who is more powerful is coming.  He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire!”

Paul wrote to the Galatians, There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are ALL … ALL one in Christ Jesus.”

And, the legal expert stood up to test Jesus, “Teacher … what must I do to gain eternal life? Jesus replied, “what is written in the Law?  How do you interpret it?  The expert responded from the Torah “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.”  Jesus said, “you have answered correctly.  Do this and you will live.”  But the legal expert wanted to prove he was right and so he asked Jesus who his neighbor was.”

Jesus then taught the lesson of the Good Samaritan … we all know it … we have heard it before and if you were listening you heard it today … it involves more than words, more than knowing Scripture, more than being a well known church goer it involves crossing the road to take on the challenge of justice;  to care for the ones who have been harmed … it involves sacrificial love … taking up one’s own cross into the world … going against the powerful … And, after Jesus taught the lesson he asked the legal expert, which one of these three men met God’s definition of loving his neighbor … to that man who was beaten and hurting along the road?  The legal expert said the obvious, “the one who demonstrated mercy towards him.”  Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Friends … look amongst this church family because we are the JUSTICE LEAGUE for God in this world.  We are called … we are taught … we have again heard the words of Jesus to care for those who are broken .. those who are harmed … those who society has kicked down … it is our challenge but it is also the commandment of God to love God but also to love our neighbors with extraordinary love. The command that gets eternal life.

This weekend, is when our nation remembers the life of  Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior.  Tomorrow across this great land is a day of service when ordinary folks like you and me can take on service projects to care for others.  Tomorrow is a day when people will be gathered in Sicklerville … in Atlantic City … in Washington DC … in Atlanta Georgia and all across the United States to again hear the words of Dr. King.

I had an interesting social media discussion this week … someone thought that a preacher … a pastor … needs to be still and quiet.  That a pastor should limit his words to I quote “rainbows and unicorns” rather than speaking out about justice because in this man’s mind pastors are supposed to stay out of the fray … out on the other side of the road and walk past the hurting and broken.   I didn’t ask … there was too much heat already but I am supposing this man also would say that any follower of Jesus should also avoid the hurting on the other side of the road too … to instead celebrate his rainbows and unicorns to be delivered only on Sunday mornings.  Still and quiet …

Well, the lesson of my fellow pastor Dr. King is that all people of faith are called to get into the fray; into the middle of it and to do all we can to rescue the hurting and to make the justice of Jesus Christ visible for the world to see … Dr. King impacted a very young David Delaney growing up in Williamsville, New York.  I read his books … I saw him beaten down on TV just so people of his color could get the right to vote, to be able to eat where I eat, to have basic human rights … and I know exactly where I was on that April evening in 1968 when the news reports came out over the radio that a gun shot had taken him down in Memphis and I wept in that place.  I wept again when I stood outside the motel in Memphis and looked up at that balcony.

This morning, as I have in all of the churches I have pastored on the Sunday morning associated with his birthday, I want to share some of Dr. King’s words.  Today’s history lesson comes from a sermon of Pastor King’s entitled “Why Jesus called a Man a Fool” that he preached in 1967 at Mount Pisgah Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago.  He tells how he had received a phone call threatening not only his life but his wife Coretta’s life and their then baby girl Yolanda’s life.  The caller basically told Dr. King to get out of town or die but at midnight over coffee Dr. King experienced Jesus once again.  Here is a small part of that powerful sermon … <<PLAYING THE LAST FOUR MINUTES of the sermon WHY JESUS CALLED A MAN A FOOL from YouTube>>

<<PASTOR DAVE at the piano playing THERE IS A BALM in GILEAD>>”There is a balm in GILEAD to make the wounded whole … there is a balm in GILEAD to heal the sin-sick soul.  Some times I feel discouraged and think my work in vain.  But then the Holy Spirit revives my soul again.  There is a balm in GILEAD to make the wounded whole; there is a balm in GILEAD to heal the sin sick soul.  If you can’t preach like Peter, if you can’t pray like Paul, just tell the love of Jesus and say He died for all ….”

Friends, YES, sometimes I get very discouraged but THERE IS A BALM in GILEAD THANK GOD and it often heals this sin sick soul. <<Pointing at himself>>.  Jesus loves you; everyone … He died for all.  We know how He stood before the gathered neighbors in Nazareth to read from the prophet Isaiah. It’s the Isaiah lesson we heard this morning,

We are the Justice League … we are the ones who cross the road to help the downtrodden even when others say no don’t go … The Lord God’s Spirit … Jesus baptizes you and me and this morning we witnessed the baptism of _______ joining us as members of God’s church a baptism of the Holy Sprit of water and yes of fire … We committed to care for this family … this girl.  Through our baptism we committed to live for Christ.

The Lord God sent Jesus to bring “good news to the poor … to bind up the broken-hearted … to proclaim release to the captives and liberation to the prisoners … to comfort those who mourn … foreigners will stay and shepherd your sheep and strangers will be your farmers and vinedressers … I, the Lord love justice!   Rejoice in the Lord so that the Lord God will grow righteousness and praise before all the nations.”

And, if asked what does one need to have eternal life … love God, love neighbor … that’s what Jesus taught. We know what faith without works is …  Believe in Jesus but then live that faith.  Are you ready to cross the road when you see someone hurting … are you ready to pour the balm of GILEAD out for others to experience it … if you don’t have the words then just tell the love of Jesus and say He died for ALL … Justice League members we need to rise up … Justice League members the world is hurting …. Justice League members the Light of Jesus needs to shine brightly.

“Don’t ever feel discouraged for Jesus is your friend, and if you look for knowledge He’ll ne’er refuse to lend. There is a balm in GILEAD to make the wounded whole; there is a balm in GILEAD to heal the sin-sick soul.”


Watch a video of today’s worship service:


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