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Jesus, Immanuel, Forever

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  • Last week, as we gathered around together and discussed our hopes for 2023, one of the reflections out of the texts was that we "did the work"
    • I said then that I didn't think it was the most exciting or glamorous of ways to set our sights in 2023, but that it was authentic and honest, which is probably what we want more anyway.
    • The combo of Ecc 3 and Matthew 25 invited us to consider that we can't always know beginnings and ends, but that we're tasked with doing the work in front of us in the present: care for those who the world has left behind.
    • But lots of questions arise out of that - for how long? How are we equipped? What are we asked to do?
    • Those questions can ultimately distract us out of the present moment, and to do what God calls us to
  • So ultimately, where's our comfort? This is what we're going to discuss over the next few weeks between now and Ash Wednesday
  • Mt, and this familiar scene up bapitsm, continues to be a remind for us that Jesus matters
    • It's easy to relax ourselves into focusing solely on Jesus as exemplar - good person, thoughtful leader.
      • It's not necessarily wrong, but it falls short, because it ultimately makes Jesus immanent and not transcendent.
      • Jesus simply becomes historical artifact, and not a all-time-changer.
      • Instead, what we witness here in this scene is beyond time, connecting with God, Godself - it's a gathering of the Trinity, and a blessing of Jesus as more than just simply good teacher.
      • And what does Jesus do? Come to us to fulfill the right.
    • In conversation with Isa, we see how important this chosen servant is
      • A caveat here at the beginning - we can at times presume that these Hebrew texts are only able to be read through a Christian lens. That's not true, and it can cause us to being reductionistic to the Jewish tradition. But, we can also acknowledge that our texts are our lenses as well. So we find a balance.
      • Interesting in the text itself this idea of "bringing forth justice" - it's written as imperfect (incomplete)
      • So the servant will begin the work of bringing forth justice, but it won't have reached its conclusion yet.
      • But, that servant "will not grow faint or be crushed until he has established justice on the earth"
  • We start to hear the parallels now between Mt and the Tanakh: a savior who will establish justice, who will transform the world to right living, and 25 tells us the task now falls upon us as well.
    • There is a comfort here! That until justice has been fully realized, the savior will not rest. He will not be crushed. And the world itself hopes for it to be so.
    • No matter how dire or dour it seems, Jesus is here, and is not worn out from the effort.
    • Jesus, then, is God with us until the end - until everything is at it should be. And that transcends everything else.
    • With that, some of the other questions begin to take different shape:
      • Now we're asking more about how we're in partnership with Jesus as colaborers, partners in the work of justice
      • Our criteria become how we're feeding the hungry, quenching the thirsty, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned?
      • Those are such different question than the church asks itself! And it's perhaps at our peril.
      • As we go through these next weeks though, we'll see that this isn't single direction relationship - Jesus comes to us with curiosity, with passion, and with a desire to keep us together. We're not alone here.
  • I'm going to keep asking this question of us gathered far and wide - are we willing to take this up? Will we do the work when we know Jesus is with us to the end? To ask the right questions?

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