This weekend we were reminded of two things that define our present existence. Daylight savings reminds us that we are bound by the limitations of time, while national politics reminds us that we are bound by the imperfect rhythms of human ideals and schemes. Whatever the result overnight, we are truly blessed to live in a country with relatively free and clean institutions, which allows us to make choices about what sort of community we want to be part of. Our privilege of voting in each election cycle reminds us of the lack of freedom experienced by so many around the world, whose communities are shaped by corruption and coercion, rather than freedom and choice.

The bold promises of present-day politicians brings into focus the political manifesto that stands above all others, unrestricted by both the limitations of time or human frailty. In Luke 4 Jesus picks up the baton passed down by the prophets of the Old Testament – the good news of God’s rescue and restoration of all people. This mission took on new life in the ministry of Jesus, as he healed, freed, affirmed and restored outsiders back into communities, before passing this same manifesto onto his followers, to proclaim God’s salvation through words and actions. This was a charge taken up by the early church under the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit. As a result, many of the institutions of care that our elected governments now steward, had their origins in the bold and sacrificial care of the church.

That’s a legacy we’re seeking to pursue with the same vigor here at St Paul’s. So, today, we’re celebrating some of the ways that people within our community are stepping into that mission to make God’s grace known to those most in need, the very people Jesus spoke about in his Luke 4 Manifesto—the poor, prisoners, the blind, the burdened and battered. As we do this, we’re also considering how each of us can support these ministries of compassion and all that we do as a church. I want to thank all of you who support St Paul’s financially and making what we do possible. And if you consider St Paul’s to be your church, I want to invite you into this adventure of giving to what God is doing through our community of faith.

Scot McKnight sums up this privilege: “The Apostle Paul thinks everything we have is the result of God’s grace, that the material and the spiritual are tied together, and that our responsibility is to see that God’s grace is such that our duty is to pass the grace — we get in order to give. God rescues us and we respond materially, and others provide materially and we respond spiritually. It’s tied together. The fundamental principle of Paul’s theology of money is reciprocity. God gives to us so we can become grace to others. Paul doesn’t teach the tithe or charity. He teaches grace and grace is more radical and more revolutionary than the tithe and charity.”

So, as our politicians promise the earth, let the Kingdom come in Jesus’ visible and active body, the church. As Bill Hybels audaciously put it: “The local church is the hope of the world”!

Blessings,
Rev Jonny Grant