Proclaiming the Year of the Lord’s Favor: Girardian Virtual Bible Study Preview

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday at 10:00 am CT, Adam and Lindsey host a live Girardian Virtual Bible Study following the Sunday lectionary on the Raven Foundation Facebook page. We invite our listeners to join the conversation with comments and questions. I take some notes to help me prepare… and share them with you to help you do the same! This is the Girardian Virtual Bible Study preview!

 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. … Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” 

Admit it… sometimes you wish a sermon could be that short!

But when these words of Isaiah (61: 1-2) came out of Jesus’ mouth in his inaugural sermon in Nazareth, they must have bewildered the congregation. What could it mean that the scripture had been fulfilled in their hearing?

What does it mean for us today?

Do the poor have good news today? Are the captives free? Do the blind see, and are the oppressed on the verge of liberation?

Is this the Jubilee? Are our debts cancelled? Have we forgiven our debtors?

If we cannot answer “Yes” to these questions 2000 years after Christ, we must ask what has gone wrong. And if we are meant to be the body of Christ here on earth, we must ask how we will bring good news to the poor, set the captives free, heal the blind, dismantle systems of oppression, and bring Jubilee to the world?

How?

If someone declared to us that the time had come to free prisoners and cancel debts, would we respond with awe and wonder? Would we be filled with hope? Would we scoff and declare it impossible? Would we insist that the system we have is good, and may need improvement but doesn’t need to be overturned?

The nation with the largest prison population, built on theft, genocide, and slavery, where a majority of citizens live in great debt, and healthcare is bought by the wealthy and denied to the poor, must ask all of these questions. We must ask how we would respond to the Gospel calling. We must ask how we do respond to the Gospel calling.

How does the congregation respond? The lectionary reading for this Sunday, Luke 4:14-21, stops short of telling us, but Adam and I will discuss what happens in verses 22-30 as well. The lectionary does us a disservice by cutting this passage in half. Taken as a whole, this passage has much to teach us about what constitutes good news, how to bring it about… and why prophets are never welcome or safe in their hometowns.

Whether you’re a minister preparing your Sunday sermon or a lay person trying to better understand the Bible, whatever you believe, question, or doubt, we warmly invite you to participate with comments and questions as we seek to grow our virtual community. Your presence is more than an honor and a blessing – it’s a necessity! Since we are interdividual beings, growing in relationship with one-another, we need each other! Your participation is an integral part of the Girardian Virtual Bible Study!

Image: “Gottlieb Christ preaching at Capernaum,” by Maurycy Gottlieb via Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain.

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