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Presidential Inaugural Addresses

In the long list of Presidential inaugural speeches, President Biden’s inaugural address is right in the middle. I am not referring to its place on the political spectrum. I refer to its length. They range from 8,460 words by William Harrison in 1841 to 135 by George Washington in 1793. President Biden is in the middle with 2522 words.

Among many purposes an inaugural address sets a tone, tells a people what vision the leader is committed to and often indicates a general outline of what needs to be done.

Jesus’ Inaugural Address and Mission statement

Luke 4 is regarded by many as Jesus’ inaugural address… a mere 60 words.  These 60 words have had more impact on our history than all of our Presidential addresses combined.

After he set the stage in the Synagogue with a reading from Isaiah he offered his “mission statement.”

“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, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

He also offered this 9-word commentary and commitment.

“Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

In 60 words he described his mission and his commitment. He told them that this scripture from Isaiah is why he was there. He told them that these words from Isaiah’s Servant Song summed up what he was called to do. The gospels highlight how he embodied his mission statement.

God’s “inaugural address” and mission statement(s)

The bible begins with God saying over and over that all creation was “good”. In the course of many millennia we messed up God’s good gift to us individuals and as a people much like a child who breaks a treasured gift because he does not understand its value.

Jesus is God’s restatement of how God sees us and all creation. All is good and there are no “throw-aways”. Keep in mind that the Word took flesh in the context of a massive “throwaway-culture”. He reminds us we are all God’s beloved sons and daughters.

Jesus succinctly sums up everything that went before from the time of garden. Love the Lord your God… and your neighbor as much as you love yourself. That is the standard he proposes and lived by.  That is the standard he calls us to live by. He did not just tell us this from the safety of some palace but from the midst of a culture that separated brothers and sisters into ”us” and “them. No wonder the radical parable of the Good Samaritan (who is one not like us) was so jarring when they thought about it.

Later John goes back and reminds us “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son.”

The Vincentian Mission

Vincent made Jesus’ mission statement his own. He referred to those who followed him as a “little company” of those joined in the mission of Christ the bringer of the good news. He paid attention to the details of living like brothers and sisters.

He dedicated his life to making that vision more a reality across and within all levels of society. For Vincent as for Jesus there are no “throw-aways.”. He says that if you think there are just look at the other side of the dented coin and see them as God sees them.

The Mission Statement of our lives

  • Can others, especially those others we tend to throw away, recognize a commitment to Jesus’ mission in us?
  • Who are the “neighbors” I am most challenged to not throw away but rather embrace?
  • What are their greatest needs?

Click below for an audio version of this Vincentian Mindwalk