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  • The Rev. Arianne Rice

When we're excited and scared!

"The Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, release to the captives, sight to the blind and freedom to the oppressed! Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing!" (Luke 4:14ff)

"The joy of the Lord is our strength!" (Nehemiah 8:10)

Could these proclamations actually be true? What is your reaction, what does it spark in your heart?" If the good news is fulfilled, today, if today is as good as it gets, where is the good news in that?

Sometimes I think we despair when we hear the Jesus makes these proclamations. Just like the people do in our first reading from Nehemiah. Hearing the words of the law read, listening to what is apparently excellent preaching afterwards, we read that the people weep!

Despair, says Rob Bell, is the spiritual condition where you believe tomorrow will be exactly like today.

If we take in scripture as either the "fix" for all our problems, or, as ideals we will never live up too - then I could certainly understand why we might despair.

Take heart. Today is holy. Today God's joy, the source of our strength, longs to connect with our hearts, longs to move our hearts towards our inherent goodness.

Today. That word is mentioned quite often in Luke's gospel, so I want to pay attention to it. The gentle reminder of daily attention to this utterly unique span of time.

Today we are being called and invited to participate in this proclamation. Invited to listen for where our unique gifts contribute to this good news of sight, forgiveness, release and freedom.

In just a few chapters we will meet Zaccheaus, a person of standing, a tax collector who longs to connect his heart with good news. Like us, when we long, when we know the ache of desiring God, we tend to risk something in our seeking. Zacchaeus overcomes his blindness by climbing a tree! Probably being ridiculed and laughed at, given his age and stature. But, he's too excited to care. And when Jesus sees Zacchaeus he exclaims, "Today! I must come to your house."

This acknowledgement, being seen, moves Zacchaeus to immediately reply, "Today! I will give half my possessions to the poor and if I have taken advantage of anyone, I will make amends!" Wow. A wholehearted action that partners with God in bringing good news to others and to himself! We all know what it feels like to let go of the debts we hold onto literally and in our hearts.

And to this Jesus exclaims for all to hear - "Today, salvation has come to this house!" To a house, a household. To a heart.

When we listen for the call, when we long for the invitation, when we answer with our unique proclamation it is that wonderful feeling of being excited and scared at the same time! The leap of faith moment. The wholehearted engagement. The moment when we find our true selves - but our "self" is actually the last thing on our mind!

That is what a "full-fill-moment" - fulfillment - feels like. A call isn't religious. A call is relational. It is whatever connects us with our God-given gifts, the source of our joy and our strength. And that will always connect us with a common good, a sense of purpose, a visceral awareness of wholeness.

So, today, this day - where is the invitation for you? When you hear the good news of release - sight - forgiveness - and freedom - what exciting and probably scary proclamation does your joy move you towards?.

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