What does it mean to be a witness as a Christian?
To what do we provide a witness to and who are we providing that witness for?
Witness – Audio Sermon
You are witnesses to these things.
You are a witness to the testimony of holy scripture. Have you ever looked at scripture, the words that are found in the Bible which you are a witness to and tried to summarize them?
You might say that this The Good News or perhaps that the Bible tells the greatest love story ever told.
Good and fitting descriptions. However, they are also very large and broad brush strokes. Telling the essence of the story, but failing to describe the many issues that are at play in scripture.
Today’s lesson from Luke’s gospel is similar to what we read last week in John’s gospel. Jesus appears to the disciples. Last week we read the account that dealt with Thomas, dealing with the doubt that he and the other disciples experienced.
In our reading today Jesus appears to the disciples and we read that they were startled and terrified. They thought they were seeing a ghost.
Jesus meets the disciples where they are and addresses their fear and their doubt. He puts the disciples at ease by confronting their fears and by joining them in the simple act of sharing a meal.
The actions of Jesus during this encounter seem as if nothing has changed. It’s just Jesus, spending time with the disciples. As though his wounds and death had never happened. It’s as if Jesus is trying to tell the disciples, didn’t I tell you this was going to happen? Didn’t you believe me?
Then Jesus spends time with the disciples. He opens their minds to understand the scriptures and proclaims that all that is written has been fulfilled. That repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed to all nations. That you are witnesses of these things.
This passage from Luke’s gospel puts us in the shoes of the disciples. Which requires that we ask what are we frightened off and as a result what do we keep locked up?
There are many answers to that question. At least one response for each person sitting here this morning. What are we afraid of? What keeps us from moving forward and providing a witness?
The good news is that the story does not end with a state of fear. The story does not end with the disciples being frightened. So our story should also not end on such a note.
For just as Jesus put the disciples at ease, the promise found in the resurrection does the same for us. It reminds us that we do not need to live in fear, but rather in joy. Joy in the promise of eternity with our Lord. Joy in doing the work that we have been called to do together. The story from Luke’s gospel calls for a prophetic release of energy. For us to be passionate about the ministry that Jesus calls us to do. Which is to ask people to repent, that they turn towards God. That they find peace in God, purpose in God and forgiveness in God. I think we often forget just how important and life changing it can be to receive true forgiveness. This is the message that we offer to society. A message I believe it desperately wants and needs to hear.
Friends, Jesus makes it so easy for us. Yet, in our haste and self-preoccupation I think we sometimes miss the point. We miss the message that Jesus offers to us.
Those disciples were fearful and frightened because they worried that they might be next. That they might find themselves on a cross, dying a painful death.
In putting them at ease Jesus does not promise them security. Jesus does not promise them an easy road. Jesus offers them peace. Peace be with you is what Jesus says to the disciples.
The word of God calls us to peace rather than security.
What does it mean to live in peace versus live in security?
We live in a world where stories of war, poverty, disease, neglect, prejudice, fear, isolation dominate the headlines. You don’t need me to tell you this. You can open a paper, turn on the news, check your social media feeds and you can confirm it yourself. Not discover it, because we all already know it to be true. We live in a world that sensationalizes already bleak and horrifying stories of poverty, famine, war and despair.
Friends, horrifying and life changing events do not create glaring pictures of poverty and despair, they expose them.
These situations already exist and it is to humanities shame that it is so.
However, we often harp about a media which likes to sensationalize. Which moves from conflict to conflict at hyper fast speeds. The media and our attention spans are short, painfully so. We like to point a finger and get upset by how a situation is blown out of proportion.
I wonder if maybe we should be doing something different? If instead of being incensed about the images of despair and tragedy, if instead of being disgusted by news outlets which prey on sensationalism if we should stop. Stop and realize that all the media is doing is telling us something we already know. Of recognizing that yes things are bad out there. Of thanking the media for drawing these images to our attention, for exposing things.
Then, we need to turn the corner. Instead of responding to these images of tragedy and despair with apathy, we need to respond. We need to call people back to relationship with God and work on creating relationships which are founded in trust and love.
Friends, Jesus is alive and working on behalf of wholeness and community. It is to this purpose that we are also called to work. To establish relationships of love with one another, with our neighbours and with all who we meet during our daily lives.
Jesus says, you are witnesses of these things.
Friends, how can you be a credible witness to God’s love for the world?
How do we as a community of faith respond to God’s presence? How do we participate and get involved?
The opportunities are limitless. They exist in your every thought, action and word. Everything that you do is an opportunity to lead people back to God and to offer the forgiveness that we receive in Jesus Christ.
Friends, learn how to preach forgiveness. Live it out every day. Learn how to point people toward God by living your life to God. By turning to God, in accepting God’s forgiveness we take the first steps in creating the kingdom here on Earth.
You are witnesses to these things. Amen.