“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me. He has sent me to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to liberate the oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
—(Luke 4:18-19, CEB)
“Why can’t I be like everyone else?” I hear the words from my mouth echo through the years to the mouths of my children.
“Because we are called to be different, to love God and to love others.”
My parents’ words easily slip from my lips to the ears of my children. \
As a “PK” – a “preacher’s kid” – I tried hard to understand why I couldn’t be like, dress like, talk like, and act like other kids.
They would use words that we didn’t use at home, watch movies that we didn’t watch, read books that we didn’t read, tell “dirty jokes” that we didn’t tell, and treat others in unacceptable ways. As a young adult and then as a young parent, I learned to appreciate the standards my parents had instilled in me, and I grew to understand that my family loved me and wanted the very best for me.
My parents lived out the words proclaimed in Scripture, so as I watched them, I saw Scripture come to life as they worked to relieve the suffering around them, to liberate those oppressed by economic disaster and society, to set free those held prisoner by alcoholism and drug abuse, and to open the eyes of those blinded by temptations of fame, wealth and power.
The words of Isaiah, spoken through the lips of Jesus and later recorded by his followers, still ring out to us today. We see the words lived out through the lives of great leaders like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as he worked to release prisoners of broken political and social systems and to liberate oppressed people.
Still the words echo to us to be changed and to change, to serve and to liberate. Yes, in our 21st century world, people are still oppressed, wars are still waged in the name of religion and freedom, and hatred of others still exists, but we don’t have to live as prisoners to it. We can spread the news of God’s love for all people in how we live and in how we serve.
When we ask God to open our blind eyes to the needs around us, we will work to relieve suffering, and we will no longer accept bondage to sin and hatred as norms. Dr. King lived out Jesus’ words of loving God and loving others, and everything he accomplished fit into that guideline for his life.
How can we be living examples of Isaiah’s words in our world? Yes, folks, we still have some work to do.
Rev. Jan McCoy is the Associate Pastor of Covington First United Methodist Church in downtown Covington. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at www.covingtonfirst.org.