Several years ago, as I was the last out to turn out the lights at Taylor College, I was faced with a new and daunting challenge. I was moving from the classroom and college administration into a new mission field. I have long been a believer in Jesus words “My sheep hear my voice”, and I try and take time to listen for him. At that time as I launched out into fulltime inner-city and correctional chaplaincy the Lord ‘spoke’ to me through Luke 4:18 – 19 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners, and recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” This of course is an excerpt from Jesus first recorded sermon after his baptism and temptations. It defined his ministry from that point onward! I ‘heard’ Jesus’ call to follow him and an affirmation that this new venture was the right place for me.
A short time after this we founded Street Hope Saint John and adopted 1 Peter 1:3 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” For the past number of years this verse has informed our ministry.
Recently I was in prayerful conversation with a dear friend who is designing a logo for our new “Threshold House” project. As we talked about the thrust of the ministry she asked me what was the key Bible passage that informed the vision for our project. In our local groups brain storming sessions, we had referenced several, too many for inclusion in a logo’s design. She said that in her experience sometimes an earlier such verse might be helpful to revisit. In a flash Luke 4:18-19 came crashing back to mind. The words “year of the Lord’s favour” seemed especially on point!
Threshold House is designed to be a 12-month experience in Christian community for men who have solidly discovered “new birth into a living hope”. During this “year of the Lord’s favour” they are to grow into people who can effectively follow Jesus in the proclamation of Luke 4:18-19.
As they take up this new calling and venture out as agents of proclamation and transformation, we ready ourselves to usher a new cohort into the year of the Lord’s favour. Together we hope to see change that can only come by the power and anointing of that same Spirit that anointed our Saviour and Exemplar back then.
When I was commissioned some 40 years ago I was given a verse by a saintly mentor “a great door for effective work is open before me, and there are many who oppose me.” 1Cor.16:9 There is still much opposition not flesh and blood so much as spiritual and circumstantial. Our awareness raising has been severely hampered by covid. My skill sets lean toward public presentation and verbal persuasion and these times require more tech savvy approaches. Our profile lags and our support raising drags, but we are not deterred. We are living in the year of the Lord’s favour. We move forward in faith!