“Tikkun olam”

Sermon Summary for Sunday, January 22nd, 2017 | Respectfully Submitted by Mal Underwood

We were blessed to welcome Easton Davis, Missioner for Youth & Young Adults for the Diocese of Atlanta, along with three other Diocesan youth minister guests, to worship with us on the Third Sunday after Epiphany.  Easton delivered a homily that was inspiring, informative and perfectly aligned with Mo. Mary’s announcement that our 2017 budget includes a new staff position for a part-time youth minister at Ascension.  What a great blessing for our parish family indeed!

In the Gospel lesson from Matthew, the story of Jesus’ call to the first four of his “inner circle” of twelve disciples is told.  In it he calls two sets of brothers who are the very definition of commoners in their time – Peter, Andrew, James and John – uneducated by the standards of the societal elite, likely foul-smelling, and superficially the unlikeliest of candidates to help him change the world.  It amazes me that these four people dropped their entire life’s plan for themselves in an instant and followed this complete stranger of an itinerant preacher.  This story also strikes me as another perfect example of how our Savior came to his earthly ministry to gather the fringes of society and bring them the good news of the salvation and glory of the Kingdom of God being available to all.  As it is quoted in the text, “the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death, light has dawned.”  Jesus changes the world through his peasant birth, the announcement to the shepherds, his upbringing as a carpenter, and his calling of common people to go with him to preach the gospel.

Easton’s message was centered on the theme “Tikkun olam”, literally Hebrew for “repair of the world.”  In his words and context, Easton names it “change the world.”  In the NT lesson, Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, it is clear that we are called to leave divisions behind and work together for the proclamation of the Gospel and care of those in need around us. We are all part of the “Jesus movement” designed to fix the world.  God created each of us with different gifts so that by coming together in love and mission we can combine to be a force for the Kingdom to improve the world around us.  This message is a consistent theme in Easton’s work with the youth and young adults in the Diocese – they can be a force in the kingdom by sharing the Gospel and working to bring help and relief to their neighbor.  He commended Ascension for including a formal funded position of Youth Minister in our Parish because he has seen firsthand how effective this commitment has been in parishes around the Diocese.  He told several stories of success experiences of our Diocesan youth, especially noting the work of Adam and Noah Harper.

Easton called us to be the village that supports our youth ministry, along with his pledge of support,  so that it can grow stronger and more effective with God’s help.