S-1385-20SAP/C (LWML Sunday) 10/06/2013 Hymns: (O) #822; (S) #823; (C) # Tune #662
Texts: Isaiah 62:1-7; Romans 10:11-7; Luke 24:44-53
Theme: “You Are Witnesses” (Luke 24:44-53)
Question: “What message do you have for the world?” Armour, SD
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text is from the Gospel lesson: “You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I Am sending the promise of My Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:48-49).
INTRODUCTION: In Nomine Iesu.
Saints in Christ, a few weeks ago (9/1) in the sermon titled “Be Careful in How You live” I stated, “What others see in you may well be the only Bible they ever read!” How true that is. Therefore, whether we want to acknowledge it or not we are witnesses. But witnesses of what and to whom? We are either witnesses to God or the devil.
I would be the first to declare that my life is not always a clear witness to my Savior, Jesus. I wished it was, but since I’m a sinner to the core, I know better. I have let too many things in my life get ahead of being a faithful witness to Christ. Look at your life and ask the question, “What kind of witness are you?” If you don’t know try this exercise: Review your calendar and see how much of your day or week is occupied with Jesus and His Word. Look at your checkbook and determine who gets first priority. Evaluate your time and how much of it is dedicated to Christ and His Gospel. How much time do you spend on TV watching, hunting, fishing, camping, sports, Face Book, cell phone, compare to being in the presence of the True Witness Jesus Christ.
Today, Dr. Luke speaks of Christ’s final Words of exhortations to His disciples before He returns to the place from where He came, saying: “You are My witnesses!” Notice what He doesn’t say: He doesn’t say you will be, you might be, or you should be.” No, He emphatically states, “You ARE!!!” Present active witnesses. Thus, we are witnesses at all times.
It is interesting to note that Luke the evangelist closes one book (his gospel) with the command of Jesus to be His witnesses and opens another (Acts) with the same command. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses… end of the earth” (1:8). Therefore it is clear that the life of God’s child is one of witnessing to the grace and mercy of Christ the Savior and what He has accomplished for us.
On this LWML Sunday, Luke, challenges us, NOT only the women, but ALL of us to be witnesses of the Rabbi from Nazareth. Jesus Himself said, “You are My witnesses!” This command comes from the One whose whole life gave witness to the loving Father who sent Him into the world to buy it back by giving His life on Calvary’s cross.
To be sure, Christ is the faithful WITNESS as His life is a confession of the true faith that reveals our compassionate Father’s ever-giving heart. A witness to Christ confesses the true faith. By the power and grace of the Holy Spirit, our Lord has called us in Baptism—His witnesses. Thus we share what He has given to us so that all would know the Father’s saving love. “You are My witnesses”, then, is Christ’s call to our real identity for the true confession of the faith in words and actions that inspire works of mercy in our life together. PAUSE.
There is no greater honor and privilege than for you and me who have been washed by the crimson blood of Jesus, given a new life through His death and resurrection but to hear and heed His call and share His story of redemption and salvation.
We see this great service of witnessing by women in our church body called Lutheran Women’s Missionary League who are leaven from heaven. These women have heard the call of Jesus and have faithfully since its inception in 1942 been on the front lines witnessing to one and all.
Writing about the witnessing of the LWML, Marlys Taege Moberg wrote a brief history. I share a snippet with you:
Beginning in the 1850s, women of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS, http://www.lcms.org) started local auxiliaries to meet the needs of people; mending clothes for seminarians, equipping hospitals, establishing schools, developing convalescent and retirement homes, assisting orphanages and residences for people with disabilities, gathering clothing, furniture and food for indigents, and funding mission endeavors at home and abroad.
Not until the 1920s, however, did members of congregational societies begin to coordinate their efforts by uniting in state and regional leagues. Oklahoma was first in 1928, but it took more than a decade before official approval was granted for a national LCMS women’s organization.
Although the U.S. was at war and travel was difficult, the founding convention, held July 7 and 8, 1942, in Chicago, was attended by over 100 women from 15 districts. The 28 delegates adopted a constitution, approved a name, chose two projects, and established a Literature Committee to publish books, a national magazine, tracts and programs. They also determined that 1/4 of the mission gifts collected in local societies would be given to the national organization and 3/4 used for district projects.
Thanks be to God for these women who in their lives gave and are giving witness to the love of Jesus and served Him with joy and gladness. Throughout the ages, LWML have been preparing literatures to assist many in knowing their relationships with Christ their Savior. Even the magazine, the Lutheran Woman’s Quarterly (LWQ) has included Bible studies that have been used by people all over the world. Through the Word, our Lord engages people for lives of witnessing. Stories of faith in those pages of the LWQ exhibit the mutual conversation and consolation of the saints that we believe, teach, and confess that Jesus is Lord and God, and we are His servants. There are the Mustard Seed devotions from the LWML left in hotel rooms, restaurants and greeting cards show how the witness of Christ continues to permeate the world. “You are My witnesses,” Christ says through His servants in the LWML. PAUSE.
Even in this place, just take a look and see the labor of love in all that these daughters’ of the King have done. See the beautiful quilts stitched one blessing at a time. This didn’t just happen. They planned: they came; they cut, stitched and sewed together a quilt of love. Our LWML travel to Huron to help with the Puppet show, gather goods for Pastor Utecht to share in his ministry among the Native Americans and seek supplies to help the Alpha Center (pregnancy crisis place) for those who find themselves with child.
This IS witnessing par excellence! And to this Christ the true and faithful Witness has called all of us to be His witnesses. To be a witness takes time, patience and planning.
Just as you and I plan vacation, camping, fishing or hunting trips, likewise we should plan to be witnesses to the Savior—Jesus. Plan by getting down on your knees, pray for the person[s] you want to reach and trust that the Holy Spirit will use you in spite of you. Plan to give towards the Mission work of the Church and the spread of His Gospel. This work is not done by you alone, Christ is here leading and directing your every step.
Jesus, the faithful witness opened His hands and blessed His disciples in today’s Gospel as He sent them to be witnesses of His death and resurrection. Eventually, they would share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with countless people as day by day more were added to those who were saved.
Even today, Christ opens His nail-pierced hands in love to satisfy the desire of every living thing as He blesses us for His service in the world through our various vocations. He opens His hands to give us His life-giving Body and Blood as He opens His hands to bless us and keep us, giving us peace. Receiving the Blessed Sacraments, we have been blessed with forgiveness, life, and salvation to share the truth of His all-atoning love as His witnesses in the world.
We have seen this witnessing first hand in this house of worship. It all begins here as Christ comes to us to speak to us, lead us out, and blesses us, just as He did His disciples in today’s reading. It continues in worship as Christ speaks through us, leads through us, and blesses others through us. And it will culminate in endless worship as we look to the Day of His return when we, who have been spoken to by Christ and who have been led out by Him are blessed to be raised from the dead and in our flesh to live in the joy of being His people forever.
“You are my witnesses,” Christ our Lord says. Confessing the truth in love and serving the Lord with gladness, we rejoice that Christ speaks to us, leads us out and blesses us as He graciously entrusts us with the Gospel in our ears, eyes, hands, and mouths saying, “You are My witnesses” Now and always. Amen and Amen.
Now the peace…
Soli Deo Gloria