Jan 8, 2017 sermon "God has anointed us with His love"

Have you ever been appointed by somebody to do an assignment or a task they wanted you to do?

If/when you were ‘appointed’ your success might largely depend on your also being ‘anointed’.
That is to say, given a special blessing of either love and approval as part of their endorsement of you to do that job.
That’s what happened with Jesus at the time of his Baptism in the River Jordan.
The ceremonial part was when John the Baptist poured the water on him.
But the appointing and anointing was done by the Spirit of God that rested upon him.
God the Father said to him ‘You are beloved and with you I am well pleased”.

Then and there Jesus had the most important thing someone can be given when they are appointed to do a job - 
You are loved’ and ‘I am pleased with you
To have the Father’s love and support helped enable Jesus to be able to help others in all that he ends up doing.
And helping others was exactly the task that he was given to do.   

The job description was written out long before Jesus’ baptism by the prophet Isaiah in what we heard today in our reading.
There, God endorses who he calls “My servant in whom my soul delights” - i.e… Jesus!
What is God’s “servant” expected to do in this job?
Pretty much lots of good things for all the people.

Mainly, that job description emphasizes the word “justice” which is used three times in the first four verses.
I tend to think “justice” means revenge or punishment for doing wrong;…that people get what they deserve.
And there is an aspect of that in the bible,…but mostly God has another idea.
God’s “justice” more often tends to mean that the weak are helped and supported,… rather than the wicked are punished.
God’s “justice” means that everyone is deserving of His blessings.
God’s servant is called to bring sight to the blind,…
freedom to those in bondage,…
and light to those who sit in darkness.
And what’s unique in this assignment is that the task for Jesus is not limited  -  God says it is “for all (people) nations”. 

So Jesus’ job is to help the least and lowest, whether they are physically weak or broken,… mentally weak or broken,….or spiritually weak or broken. 
God wants his servant to lift all out of their lowly places and make things better.
Isaiah sums it up saying his servant will make “new things spring forth” so the “former things have come to pass”… i.e. ‘long gone’!

But just like this happened to Jesus in his baptism, so does it happen to us in our baptism!
In that event, God’s blessing comes upon us so that YOU and I are appointed and anointed
Sure, we receive the gift of Jesus in God’s care and companionship along with forgiveness and salvation.
But we also receive the gift of being appointed for a task and anointed with God’s love and approval,…. just like Jesus was.

So we are appointed to bring light into the darkness of people’s lives,
Help those lame and lacking in basic life needs to have justice.
Help those in prisons of loneliness and hopelessness to escape.
But we are also anointed with the blessing of God saying to each of us that we are beloved and approved of.
Once we realize we have been anointed with those gifts from God in our appointment, we more easily and happily will do this task. 
For there is no better way to find happiness and contentment than to help bring “justice” to others.

You know,…each year a terrific Christmas movie is on TV called ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’, with Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed.
The main character, George Bailey’s family runs a small family building and loan has that has caused him many frustrations. 
But mostly things seem to be going swimmingly until his kooky uncle loses thousands of dollars from the bank and he fears scandal.
As he becomes distraught and considers taking his own life, an angel from heaven, named Clarence, is sent to help George.

The angel devises a scheme where George is shown what life without him would have been like.
Without George’s acts of kindness, everything is different for his family, for his friends, and even the town in which he lives.
George once saved his little brother from drowning;…without that act, not only the brother but hundreds of sailors his brother saved in the war, also died.
George once boldly stopped the drunken druggist he worked for from accidentally poisoning a child;…without George’s actions, the child died and the druggist went to jail.
George ran his business so that the poorer people in town were able to borrow money to build homes;…without George’s actions they had no nice place to live.
George was generous with his own money so that when the depression hit people did not suffer as much;…without his actions many suffer great loss.
George lent a hand to a promiscuous young girl who made some bad choices;…without his actions she ended up with a rotten life.
George selflessly provided a nice home for his wife and kids;… but without him she was an old maid, the kids did not exist, and the nice home was an abandoned shack.
In the end, the angel reminds George that he “really did have a wonderful life”. 

But, you see,….. what made George’s life so wonderful was not things he accomplished or possessions and wealth he gained.
What made his life so wonderful was all the times he helped bring others this kind of ‘justice’ that God desires.
He brought ‘justice’ to those who were weaker or helpless,….. 
light to those who sat in the darkness of an unforgiving world,…. 
release for those who would’ve suffered for their own mistakes.

He was in a sense,….living as the same kind of appointed servant that Jesus was,….and George was also anointed, as was Christ, with God’s love.
With Jesus we usually call it “his ministry” but for us,….its just living life as appointed and anointed servants of God.
God gives us the gift of being appointed as His servant and graces us with the anointed blessing of saying to us to;….
‘You are my beloved,….and with you I am well pleased’.

Maybe it’s a good idea once in awhile to do like George Bailey and stop and step back and take a look at our lives.
Take a look to see that God has anointed us with His love and then appointed us to be His servants.
To bring justice to others in whatever ways,….. large or small,…that we can do so in our lives.
To bring some happiness to others and, thereby, bring happiness to ourselves at the same time.
The  more we embrace those gifts from the God who loves us,….
and the more we act as servants of the Lord who have been given that appointment,…
the more we’ll see we really do have a truly wonderful life.

Amen