Do Your Mission

Sermon from May 12, 2021 Baccalaureate Service by The Rt. Rev. Jeff W. Fisher

Luke 4: 14-21
When young people are growing up, adults often ask children this question:
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

As a little boy, at my graduation from kindergarten, each child was asked:
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

And my answer then was:
“When I grow up, I want to be a banker, just like my Daddy.”

Later on, in the school library I was always attracted to the section of biographies, and I loved to
read about American history.

And so, when I was asked back then what I wanted to be when I grow up, my answer was this:
“When I grow up, I want to be The President of the United States.”
Then the Watergate scandal broke, bringing President Nixon down with it.
With that scandal, my presidential dreams and ambitions were dashed.

When I was in middle school, I wanted to be an architect.
After that, I thought I wanted to be an engineer.
However, then I took high school physics.
My bad grades in physics class made it painfully obvious that engineering would be a wrong
choice for me.

By the time I was a student at the University of Texas, I had decided to become an accountant, a
CPA. And I did graduate with a business degree in accounting, and I had a career as an accountant for
15 years. Then the Holy Spirit of Jesus had a different plan, and I was called to become an ordained
minister in the Episcopal Church.

I have been ordained for 17 years now, and I have been quite fulfilled in my calling.
Yet the question of what I want to be when I grow up - is still something I think about.
For during my life, and during your life, your occupation and your job will change.

But I hope that your mission - will be clear.
And for Jesus, his mission was and is - very clear.

In the Bible, in the reading from the Gospel of Luke we heard read tonight, Jesus tells us about
the beginning of his public ministry. Jesus goes to his hometown of Nazareth, and he walks into his hometown synagogue for worship.

In his hometown of Nazareth, I bet that several people whom Jesus had grown up with had asked
him the question:

What do you want to be when you grow up?

To answer that question, during the worship service, Jesus stands up to read from the scriptures.
And Jesus selects a passage from the Old Testament Prophet Isaiah.

From Isaiah, Jesus reads this:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
Because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To let the oppressed go free,
[And] to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

After Jesus finishes reading from the scriptures, he concludes by stating:
“Today, this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

At the very beginning of his public ministry, Jesus answers the question of who he will be when
he grows up. Yet Jesus does not answer with titles or academic degrees or occupations. Jesus does not tell us that he will hold the titles of Savior, or Lord, or Son of God. Instead, Jesus tells us the drivers of his passion, not the jobs he will interview for.

Jesus tells us - his mission.

Jesus tells us - that he will bring good news, will relieve the poor, and will proclaim release.

Jesus tells us - that he will heal, will free the oppressed, and will declare God’s favor for all
people.

From the beginning, Jesus tells us - his mission.

Now as a father myself of two grown sons, I can understand that the parents here tonight might be curious (or even a bit anxious) that their daughters and sons will, one day, finally figure out the answer to that question:

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Yet to the graduating seniors, I want to relieve you of some of that pressure to figure out who you will be when you grow up.

Instead, I would prefer for you to spend your time and energy - to figure out - what your mission
is.

And that is one of the reasons you came to All Saints Episcopal School in the first place:
To inquire, to innovate, to impact, and to ignite passions.

And my guess is that by now, many of you already know, in your bones, what your mission is.

For some of you, your mission is to protect the environment and to show us how to advocate for
creation.

For some of you, your mission is to care for the elderly, and the poor, and the sick, and for
disabled persons.

For some, your mission is to use your patience and your wisdom to teach and to guide.

For some, you are already pretty good at chilling and relaxing, and you give us the breathing
room to laugh and take a break with you.

For some, your mission is to use your physical abilities you have gained in sports and in the arts,
to lift up others and to inspire us.

For some, you are a natural leader who can use political and cultural systems, not to divide us,
but to make better and fairer policies for all.

For some, you have the ability to make lots and lots of money, which you can then give away to
others who have less money. (Or maybe you can pay back your parents for some of your tuition.)

For some of you, your mission is simply to love, to love others as Jesus loves us.

Your mission is driven by your passions and your abilities.

And I do hope this:
I hope that your mission is not just about you. But I hope that your mission is about other people.
I am not one of your parents. So tonight, I’m not that concerned about occupation or title you will have when you grow up.

Yet tonight, I do care that you will leave All Saints, with a sense of mission, with a few words or phrases to articulate the use of your abilities and passions.

I do hope that tonight, if any one of you were to stand up here in your hometown, in this hometown worship space, that you could proclaim:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me to....fill in the blank.

Congratulations to you all.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon you.
Now go,
Go and do
Your mission.

AMEN.
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