Mandarin Sermon Translations

  • Luke 4: 14-30, Psalm 146 Jan 17, 2021 TLC

    路加福音4:14-30,诗篇1462021117 TLC

    Context for Luke 4

    Jesus has grown up. He is now around 30 years old in the text we hear today from Luke’s gospel. He has spent years as an apprentice carpenter with his father Joseph. All the while studying the Torah, likely memorizing Genesis to Deuteronomy as well as 150 psalms in Hebrew, so that he they become a part of his life story, his way of seeing the world. With his family, he has engaged in the regular spiritual practice of sabbath rest and annual festivals: these practices involve sharing a meal, they gather around the table to tell stories of moving from slavery to freedom, light candles, give thanks and break bread. He’s been traveling to various synagogues, places of worship in the region of Galilee and comes to Nazareth, his hometown, opening the scroll of the Prophet Isaiah and read about the year of Jubilee. Once every 50 years when land that had been sold was returned to its original owner and any person held as a slave was set free.






    There have been many things we have sacrificed in the last year… I know many of you miss spectator sports, in particular watching the Canucks on the ice. When the vaccines started rolling out, I caught news that the NHL was intending to purchase vaccines for players…not sure what happened with that, but it stirred up controversy about privilege over necessity. When the Junior Canadian Hockey team started winning with 4-5 goals per game over Russia last week, we became sports fans, as my daughter would show me excerpts from the games…the one where the goal was made so fast only the camera caught it and they had to stop the game to verify. There is something about getting caught up in something bigger than yourself when we watch a good hockey game or a musical performance or a well-directed film that inspires us, lifts us up out of our day-to-day COVID monotony. It seems as if “something just comes over” the athlete or musician and we are transported with them.





    But we know that a brilliant athlete or musician has been training hour after hour, week after week, in such a way that prepares them for such moments. The musician playing scales, perfecting their technique for long hours when no one is watching. The athlete skates drill after drill, building stamina and strength, getting just the right angle for every shot. Then at the right moment, a surge of adrenaline produces a performance we call inspired, but actually it’s the fruit of long, patient hard work.




    As Jesus reads, those who listened were inspired: all eyes were fixed on him. Jesus says these words are fulfilled as they are hearing them…this is the time when the captives will be released and those who are blind will be able to see…this is God’s year to act! They were inspired by how well he spoke, hearing words of sheer grace coming from his mouth. At first, they were drawn to him.




    As I watched the mob attack the US Capital in Washington D.C. last week, armed with helmets, weapons, climbing gear, I listened to a young man interviewed by Global News, who thought he was just exercising his rights by storming the Congress in session. Mobs have a way of losing sight of the big picture, of the common good. So, when we think about the mob gathered around Jesus as he reads from Isaiah, it takes a new shape in hearing it this week. How does the crowd go from being amazed at Jesus’ words of sheer grace to trying to throw him off a cliff? What did Jesus say that leads the crowd to become enraged and violent?




    Jesus senses the crowd isn’t following him as they ask: “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” So, Jesus paints a picture of his purpose by referring to stories from scripture that the crowd knew well, stories of two prophets, Elijah and Elisha, who reveal God’s heart for the world. The prophet Elijah who is sent to help the widow of Zarephath, a woman who is an outsider to Israel, not a descendant of Abraham and Sarah. The widow is not from the inner circle of God’s beloved people. With the widow and her son, God provides flour and oil so that all three of them have enough to eat. When the widow’s son dies, Elijah raises him to life. And the prophet Elisha heals Naaman, a commander of the enemy’s army, from leprosy. These two stories stir up the mob. Israel’s God was rescuing people beyond the descendants of Abraham and Sarah…those listening to Jesus were waiting for God to free the nation of Israel from their pagan enemies. In many ancient Biblical texts, we find a longing that God would punish the wicked nations, get rid of our enemies. Instead, Jesus is announcing grace for ALL people, recovery of sight for ALL who are blind, freedom for ALL who are captive, including those with whom we disagree, those we may consider enemies.




    At first the crowd gathered for worship is inspired by Jesus but as they listen to him talk about himself like one of the great prophets, this grace extending beyond their circle, they become angry and they start to act violently…kicking Jesus out of the synagogue, driving him out of town. What was it that made them angry? Could it be they didn’t want God’s grace to extend to ALL people; including their enemies, the Romans under whose finger they suffer, all those beyond their inner circle?




    As the world saw the mob overtake the U. S. Capital, the photos of an insurrectionist in Nancy Pelosi’s desk, the mob scaling the walls of the capital, ready to take men and women of Congress hostage or worse, we saw a violent eruption of certain ideas about what it means to be American. I must admit, though I had thought something like this possible, I had not imagined it actually happening and found myself angry, afraid, grieving, and wondering what might happen next. And now, after some reflection, I wonder how I have unwittingly contributed to the mindset that leads to the eruption of white privilege, of ideas that fuel such mob behavior. Could it be that not only the mob that stormed the U. S. Capital, but any one of us whose families settled on this continent from European migration, could be captive to skewed ideas about what it means to be human, ways of thinking and seeing shaped by white privilege? What might it take to be rescued from such ideas?




    Being rescued involves living into a new story about what it means to be human among all living things in the cosmos…Educator Michael Nagler writes “The currently prevailing story—the old story (since the Enlightenment), that we live in a material, random universe, so that we, too, are primarily physical objects that need material things to be fulfilled—has led us to a permanent state of competition, not excluding violence. Whether you look at the story itself or its practical consequences, many—me included—feel it’s radically wrong. We (human beings) are (not only) a body, mind, and spirit, and we’re embraced in what Martin Luther King famously called a single garment of destiny [1]. Life is not random, and we are not powerless to change it.” ([1] Martin Luther King, Jr., “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” (April 16, 1963), Michael N. Nagler, The Third Harmony: Nonviolence and the New Story of Human Nature (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.: 2020), 10, 13–14, 


    被拯救涉及到生活在一个新的故事中,关于在宇宙中的所有生物中,人类意味着什么……教育家Michael Nagler写道:“目前流行的故事是一个旧故事(自启蒙运动以来),我们生活在一个物质的、随机的宇宙中,因此我们主要需要物质的东西来去拯救满足感,这使我们进入了一个永久的竞争状态,而这个状态不排除暴力。不管你是看故事的本身还是它的实际后果,许多人包括我在内都觉得它大错特错。人类不仅是一个身体,思想和精神,我们被马丁路德金著名地称为命运的一件外衣。生活不是随机的,我们并非无力改变它。”([1]马丁路德金,《伯明翰监狱的来信》(1963416日),Michael Nagler,《第三和谐:非暴力与人性的新故事》(Berrett Koehler出版社:2020) 10, 13-14.


    It’s a story that fuels white privilege and power that led to the mob storming the U.S. Capital…how might we begin to unravel and rewind this story together?



    Luke’s Gospel spins another story…a story of a child born to be God-with-us, God-for-us…but not just our inner circle…God-for-the mob that stormed the capitol, God-with-all who’ve been pushed to the margins by the story of materialism and white privilege. The God who calls us to be for-each-other as interconnected human beings tied with the natural world. Jesus, in reading Isaiah, and recalling Elijah and Elisha, expands the God-with-us story, a story that still today has the power to shape who we are during a global pandemic…where God’s grace is at work to bring release to all who are held captive by despair because they are treated as less than fully human, to lift of those who are bowed down in depression having lost their job or unable to visit loved ones,  to open the eyes of those of us blinded by white privilege. This is our story; the one that shapes us even during a global pandemic, rooted in God’s grace extending to the whole human family, across all divisions, drawing us together as one. Now may the peace that surpasses all human understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.