Hearty Heresy

Jesus’ Mission Statement
February 26, 2007, 9:50 am
Filed under: Bible, Christianity, Jesus, Religion, Spirituality, Theology

Here’s an interesting thought from the late Majorie Bowens-Wheatley. Marjorie was a Unitarian Universalist minister who died last December at the age of 57. One of the things that impressed me about Marjorie (and there were many impressive things about her) was here willingness to talk about her continued engagement with the Christian tradition despite of her loss of faith in its basic tenets. Here’s a excerpt from a piece she wrote called “To Keep One’s Soul“:

In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus went into the temple, rolled out a scroll, and read these words from the prophet Isaiah:

The Spirit of the Eternal is upon me, because he has ordained me and called me forth to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to all who are in bondage, to recover sight to the blind, to liberate all of the oppressed, and to proclaim Jubilee, the year of God’s freedom and restoration.

These words are, perhaps the best articulation recorded in the Gospels of the central focus of Jesus’ ministry. I think of it as his mission statement: to bring good news to those who are most in need, to release those who live in bondage, and to bring freedom and healing to the world.

Marjorie goes on to say, “This is my mission statement as well, and the ministry to which I am called.” I like the idea of this passage being both a mission statement for Jesus and a mission statement for someone who seeks to follow him. I miss Marjorie’s presence in this world, but her clear sense of how to be true to herself and true to the best of her religious heritage remains for me an example of how one (even a heretic) can stay engaged with the living Jesus.


6 Comments so far
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Hey Hearty,

I get really excited when I am thinking about something and I click around (the net) to some familiar places and find some similar ideas being discussed. Your highlight of Luke 4 (via Marjorie Bowens-Wheatley) has been on my mind for a couple reason. Being part of the lectionery a few weeks ago, it helped me positively respond to some both good and bad things that were happening in a couple of the communities I move within. Additionally, its also the theme for our Lenten series where each of the different parts — sight to the blind, release to the, etc — will be the subjects of individual discussions. So I get a charge out of seeing other folks affirm the value of these verses.

I am also (as a lenten exercise) trying to read/finish some well intentioned book purchases of the past. As a result, I am in the process of finishing Thomas Talbott’s The Inescapable Love of God, which I had started reading but never finished a couple years ago. I was excited to see it (and some other favorite authors of mine) on your blogroll pal, The Beautiful Heresy’s recommended list.


Comment by Potterdad

It’s nice to find folks reflecting on similar things on the net. And yes, Beautiful Heresy’s recommended readings are very interesting. I think I’ll check one or two out myself. I like the title of Talbott’s book…I think Jesus might have referred to God’s love that way!

Comment by heartyheretic

Thanks for the reminder on this passage. It’s a wonder how so many ignore this.

Comment by the Wayfarer

You’re welcome, Wayfarer! Sometimes it seems like everyone’s cherry picking Bible passages. I’m going to stick with the ones that call us to be the kind of people that can bring God’s dreams for humanity to fruition.

Comment by heartyheretic

[…] from. I figured that Isaiah was a good place to look since that’s where Jesus took his mission statement from. And this is what I found in Isaiah 5:8 (from The Message): Doom to you who buy up all the […]

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[…] Religion Way back in February I blogged on a passage in Luke that a friend of mine referred to as Jesus’ Mission Statement. Well that passage (when Jesus quotes Isaiah in the synagogue at the beginning of his ministry) […]

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