Home > Uncategorized > Sermon for LWML Sunday, 6 Oct, 2013

Sermon for LWML Sunday, 6 Oct, 2013

Luke 24:44-53

Note:  This sermon is an adaptation of the sermon that was written and provided in the LWML Sunday 2013 materials, written by my colleague and classmate, Rev. Dr. Dien Ashley Taylor.  I adapted it to more of my style but the main points and the outline were certainly his.  As usual the audio can be heard by clicking the triangle in the embedded player below.  

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.4536058355_9bc04e2a06_o

You are my witnesses, Jesus says.  Just as Jesus is the faithful witness of our heavenly Father’s love and compassion toward us, our Lord has called us to be witnesses who testify to what we have received in Christ.  You are my witnesses, then, is our Lord’s call to follow after Him in faithful discipleship as He leads us out into world and is also His promise to equip us with the content of our testimony that inspires works of mercy in our life together.

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus said “that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”  We typically think of the books of the New Testament being the primary testimony about Christ, the Gospels or the letters of Paul but Jesus knew that the bulk of what we know as the Old Testament testifies to Him.  He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures and poured out the Holy Spirit on them to give them power to act.  Just ten days later, with the gift of the Holy Spirit, Peter preached in the temple precincts that Jesus is “both Lord and Christ,” (Ac 2:36) meaning both “Yahweh, the self-revealed divine name of God, and Messiah, the Lord’s divine servant redeemer.  Peter used specific vocabulary used only of God and His servant from the Old Testament, from the Psalms, Psalm 16 and 110.  This is what makes Christianity not a new thing invented by Paul, or even Jesus, but rather the plan of God all along to His redeem fallen creation.  The Holy Spirit testifies to the truth of this teaching about Jesus confirming in the hearts and minds of so many gathered on that holy day of Pentecost.  Just as the disciples became His witnesses, so you too become witnesses of Jesus, witnesses of the love of God the Father who sent His Son into the world to suffer and die and rise again from the death to undo the curse of sin and death the power of the evil one.  You are my witnesses, says Jesus.

Just as He once sent His disciples to be His witnesses, so too, today, Jesus sends out witnesses to testify of Him.  Too often today we forget that pastors and other church workers are especially sent to proclaim like Peter, that this Jesus who is both Lord and Christ, we crucified, that is He was crucified for our sins and transgressions, for our sins of disobedience and rebellion against the Lord and His Christ.  The Lord sends witnesses against us and our sin.  It is a witness of the Law which shows us our sin, our blatant disregard for the testimony of the Scriptures about Jesus.  Through the preaching of the Law, the Holy Spirit shows precisely how deaf we are to compassionate voice of forgiveness, how dead we are to the need for repentance and growth in Christ’s grace.  Thankfully though, our Lord sends His preachers with the word of the Gospel for us, a word that releases us from the bondage to sin and death and rebellion against God and brings forth growth and new life in the lives of His disciples.  As that Word of life is proclaimed, the Spirit brings forth the fruit of faith and love and peace.  If we sometimes fail to receive God’s sent ones as His own, our other failure is that we fail to realize that Jesus doesn’t just send out the professionals.  Every Christian can testify to the nature of the Spirit working in them.  You are my witnesses, says Jesus, not just to pastors but to you all today.

This message is especially important on a day like today, Lutheran Women’s Missionary League Sunday, when our congregation and the wider church celebrates the faithful work of the LWML throughout the world.  It may not look like much, but two years ago the LWML announced that these little boxes have generated over 100 million dollars over the lifetime of the organization, some 70 years.  When our government throws around such huge financial numbers it’s too easy not to be impressed with $100 million but that’s a whole lot of pennies, nickels, and dimes.  How?  How could the LWML raise $100 million plus, now?  It’s a fruit of faithfulness in the word.  The LWML on the outside often looks like a bunch of church ladies who are motivated by doing, the classic “Martha”.  But that faithful Christian service comes as a result of more “Mary” like activity, faithful study of God’s Word.  Lutheran Women’s Quarterly has included Bible studies that have been used by people all over the world.  Stories of faithfulness in those pages spur others to lives of faithful witness and service.  Mustard Seed devotions left in hotel rooms and restaurants and doctor’s waiting rooms and greeting cards to friends and family show how the witness of Christ continues to for forth into this word.  Our Lord says through His servants in the LWML, you are my witnesses.

And our Lord not only speaks to us here so that we are His witnesses but He leads us out so that we are His witness in the world.

Jesus does not send His people into a world where He Himself has not gone.  He led His disciples out to Bethany, He led them out of their previous vocations to follow Him.  He led His disciples out of slavery into freedom as He leads His people out of death and into life.  As Christ leads out His disciples, His commission becomes a promise too, you are my witnesses.

Having heard the word today, where is the Lord sending you to testify of Him?  Back to your homes where you teach your little ones about God and model for them the love of God?  Back to your workplace, where honesty and truthfulness are needed so much to combat favoritism and gossip.  Back to your school where someone has heard you are a Christian and is waiting to see what that means?  Into our community where the devil prowls like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour, deceiving people into thinking that drugs can cover up the emotional pains.  Wherever we are sent we are to testify to the love of God in Christ Jesus.  Perhaps never before has our world had so much contact with the Christian message, and yet been so unable to hear it and benefit from it.  Christ leads us out to be His witnesses.

A lot of time we think that all this witnessing should be left to the pros, to the pastors and the professional church workers.  Some of us may feel inadequate to articulate a clear confession of the content of the faith.  If you feel this way, this is all the more reason to be in Bible study, both formally and personally so that the Lord can open your minds to understand the Scriptures.  But instead of concentrating on what we don’t know, we should take quite a bit of comfort in that little word “witness.”  What can you testify of as a witness?  You can only testify of what you know to be sure and true.  You may not be able to testify about Greek and Hebrew words or even those parts of the Bible you haven’t read or made sense of.  But you don’t have to.  Just testify to what you know, to what you have seen and heard.  Jesus came into the world to save sinners and He saved you.  He washed your sins away in Holy Baptism.  In that baptism He united you to Himself by burying you with Him and raising you up with Him.  You can testify to the truth of what you know.  You are forgiven in Christ alone and that He wants all people to come to a knowledge of that truth.  You can testify to the mercy of God that He would invite you to His table and feed you as one of His very own.  You can testify to the power of the Body and Blood of Christ as His own testament to strengthen you in body and soul to life everlasting.  The recurring line in an old duet by Aaron Neville and Linda Ronstadt is, “I don’t know much, but I know I love you.  And that may be all I need to know.”  We can turn that on its edge just a bit and say, “I don’t know much, but I know God’s loves me in Christ.  And that’s the most important thing I know.”  You are my witnesses says, Jesus.  He has led you out to testify to what you know.

Christ our Lord has led the LWML out to be Lutheran Women in Mission.  The pledge of the LWML is centered in the power of Christ’s calling and sending.  “In fervent gratitude for the Savior’s dying love and His blood-bought gift of redemption we dedicate ourselves to Him with all that we are and have.”  Christ Jesus was the One sent by the Father as a witness of the Father’s great love for His people.  Just as Christ was sent out to be the witness, so too Christ sent out His disciples to testify of what they knew, Jesus who was crucified is both Lord and Christ.  He lifted up His hands and He blessed them.  Jesus blessed His disciples with the hands marked by the nail wounds born for them and eventually that Good News was shared with each of us today as countless people have testified to the love of God the Father in Christ Jesus.  And today Jesus gives you His body nailed to the cross and His blood poured out for your trespasses and sins that you might be one with Him and He with you and that we all might be one in the common bond of the body and blood of Christ and so that we might go forth as witnesses to what our minds have been opened to understand.  You are witnesses of these things.  You are sent.  Amen.

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