Deans' Note January 23, 2022
When Jesus begins his public ministry, as Luke tells the story, he goes to his hometown of Nazareth and attends the sabbath service in the synagogue and reads from the Prophet Isaiah. He reaches into the rich soil of his tradition to proclaim a vision his people have treasured for generations -- hope against all odds, vision about how the world really is as God sees it, in the face of blindness, freedom in the face of oppression and captivity. But he doesn't tell his hearers that this will be fulfilled someday. He says:this vision is made abundantly clear, and is fulfilled in him today.
That's the mission of Jesus and it's ours as well. Yet it may not look as though there's much fulfillment of that vision especially as we look at our nation and as we at St. John's celebrate Black History month ( from Dr. King's birthday through the Feast of Absalom Jones) what end is there to oppression, to setting the captive free? That's why sight for blind eyes is crucial. Jesus rose up in the synagogue to make a proclamation real through the things he did and the words he spoke. He's making it real today through his body - us.
We have the opportunity to see that vision through the particular lens of the experience of faith filled Black Christians who have held on tenaciously to the vision and the work of freedom in the message of Jesus. We heard that message last week in Avie Kimbell's recollections on the steadfast faith evidenced in the work of Dr. King. We will hear that faith expressed in song as we hear more music from the African American tradition in our liturgy, We will hear that vision articulated by Deacon Dominique Piper as she preaches on the Feast of Absalom Jones celebrated at St. John's on February 13. And we will have the opportunity for some sustained reflection as we welcome Professor Stephanie Crowder as she helps us see Jesus in Luke's Gospel through the lens of the African American experience..
Isaiah's vision is fulfilled in Jesus not so much as an accomplished goal in the past, but a continuing reality in the present as we Jesus' body fulfill it in our presence, and proclamation and action in the world, today.