Rev. Andrew Cunnington
27th January 2019
The Parting of the Ways

When will I see you again?

When will our hearts beat together?

Are we in love or just friends?

Is this my beginning – or is this the end?

When will I see you again?

Those of you of a certain age or romantic disposition will recognise these words from a chart topping hit from The Three Degrees back in 1974.

A girl band – before ever that term was defined.

Their words set to a boogying sort of tune is a familiar theme to our lives.

Times when living and loving reaches a crossroads point and you are not sure what the future holds.

Is this as far as it goes – or is this the gateway to something new and better – and doubly exciting.

Here are questions not only for romantic notions but spiritual ones too.

From Christmas through until today – most of us would be happy to stay in the company of Jesus, for our life’s experience will have much in common with his.

He had a human birth just as we did.

He was part of a family as we were.

There were happy and sad times in that family just as we all surely know.

He had a home town as we do and like as not a steady job nearby.

He was baptised , he was tempted – and he came along to worship just as we do today.

Jesus was on the readers rota and today, not for the first time he comes forward to read, and the eyes of all were fixed on him, for he had a reputation to read beautifully.

But at the end of the reading… well, everything changes… for he does not say This is the Word of the Lord and the people do not say Thanks be to God.

Rather there is a silence, a long and awkward silence – until with a lump in his throat – Jesus says:

Today in your hearing , the scripture is fulfilled, and the response is an audible gasp.

To begin with the people are proud and pleased – they always knew there was something special about this lad – and he was one of their own.

I mean – the Messiah – on the electoral roll right there in their own parish.

But within moments their wonder turned to fury as it all starts to sink in. He’s the carpenter’s son isn’t he? What is he now making of himself?

And they knew one thing – they wanted him GONE.

For they began to see that these words had two implications for their lives and they didn’t like either of them – not one little bit!

Preach Good news to the poor.

Proclaim freedom to the captives

Recovery of sight to the blind

Release of the oppressed.

The first thing was, it was as if Jesus was accusing them.

You are poor – even though you have money in the bank
You are captive – even though you are not locked behind bars
You are blind – even though you see
You are oppressed – even though you have good things to look forward to.

You have a need for God – but the problem is – you don’t seem to know it.

So here’s the choice.. come to terms with your own need – then come with me and minister to that same fragile state that is everywhere and all around.

And if you won’t do that – well I see that you are going to want to run me out of town.

It’s a call to each of us is found in one place only – that our very woundedness is the blessing we have to offer.

It’s a call to little Matthew and his family today – for Baptism means saying YES – to the exciting but dangerous future that the Gospel describes.

When will I see you again – are we in love or just friends – is this my beginning or is this the end.

Are you drawing me close or pushing me away – O congregations of Nazareth and Redhill.

Those who followed – and there were not many of them – -opened up their lives to a world full of miracles – of achieving unlikely and seemingly impossible things.

Those who wanted him gone – were left as they were before – lives couched in suspicion and bitterness.

Those who followed – within three short years of today’s event they would witness the principles of this Gospel reading meted out upon Jesus himself.

He would be poor – stripped of everything.
He would be captive – thrown into a hole in the ground and then pinned to a cross.
He would be blind – groping towards death on a day when the sun’s light failed
He would be oppressed – derided and rejected.

Jesus says to us all through this reading – will you move on with me or is this as far as you want to go.

Do you take me to your heart or do you throw me over the cliff.

And little Matthew Nyandoro – the littlest and the youngest one here – he and his little family are the first to stand – and say through this sacrament of Baptism – as for me and my family we will move forward with you O Lord.

And the Three degrees chart topping love song and the Gospel of the day takes a fresh shape in the tiniest of lives.

And if they step forward …why would the rest of us even think of holding back.

Are we in love or just friends – is this my beginning or is this the end – when will I see you again…

LUKE 4: 14-21