Witness of These Things
Tony E Dillon-Hansen
18 April 2021
Sermon based upon Psalm 4, Luke 24 and 1 John 3.
The Gospel of Luke concludes Jesus appearing to the disciples before the Ascension into Heaven. Jesus pronounces peace, has some broiled fish, then opens their minds with amazing understandings, and then Jesus says, “you are witness of these things.”
Let us open our minds today to what this witness is because as children of God, we too are witnesses of these things.
Again, these scriptures are really the start of the story; one that tells of the promise and the hospitality of God for all. Jesus sends the disciples (us children) into the future with this. Thus, it is up to us to step into that an intimidating future because the future is not as predictable as we like.
In fact, predictable future is really the past. In other words, predictable is not having faith in what God has for us but rather something else. Instead, future is full of potential of what it will be (sometimes pleasant or unpleasant). The future is mystery.
When we have faith, we can realize the wisdom of Jesus. We find God keeps showing up and revealing more about ourselves as children of God more and more.
The good news is that Jesus opens up minds and blessings for all people. Jesus breaks through the mystery for us to proclaim that love and forgiveness for all God’s children. (Isn’t that something we need today as we have more violence in the news?)
Our witness then is trusting in the process and the meaning of the resurrection as (not just a one-and-done event or having answers but ) trusting and having faith that God is working in our world. Our witness is the mystery of God - God liberating all with justice and love for restoration of all people through our hearts.
What then does it mean to be witness of these things? Let God work through you! Open your hearts and minds to the wisdom. Let your mind be amazed by what Jesus offers. Then you can experience the “I get it” moment. We can be like the disciples in Luke when their minds were opened to understand. They got it.
Faithful prayer is a good starting point. Prayer works because we pray and meditate upon that trust -> letting God work. Prayers, over time, are kind of like a song that plays when that music carries us along in sonic waves and hopes. Prayers, like music, are not races to the end. If the objective of music was the quickest to the end, the song would be a single chord. That is why we listen to the whole song, why we pray, hum and sing – not to hurry to the end, but to listen for God working – opening our minds to possible, to mystery.
Then, “I get it” is possible, and then, we understand how amazed the disciples were to hear Jesus’s wisdom. We can do that today: realize that wisdom and peace is for you to embrace, learn and “get it.” When you do, then justice, love and compassion as the core of God’s kingdom is revealed to us through Jesus for all God’s children.
If I, however, pray only with my predictable expectations or that specific ending in mind (like listening to a song that same way I always have), then I don’t allow space/mystery for God to happen where I am today; I limit what peace God offers in this space.
Simply, peace is not control; control is not peace. In fact faith is letting peace happen; letting God fill the spaces rather than us trying vainly to control everything - because we cant. What would be the point of all that anyway?
When peace and God happen to you, you will immerse in the sensations and be one with spirit – just like a great song.
Then we gain far more from faithful witness because we let love, we let all people as they are – without judgment. Then positivity, goodness – most importantly healing and growth in abundance happens. We can reach out to neighbors in need, comfort the grieving spouse, give food to the homeless, support the veteran with PTSD, march for justice, help parents provide for children, or support our first responders. We might find less need for social media echo chambers and maybe even grow beyond instant violent reactions. When we lift each other, you just might witness diverse people singing a mutual song.
Then your faith becomes your witness with this total immersion in the peaceful experience of Jesus. We open our understanding and our minds to growth and healing.
Use the gifts you have; use this witness you have of God’s grace, love, and justice in the whole world through Jesus as our example.
To think about it a different way, don’t let anger, sadness or troubles stop you from the peace of Christ. You may need to ask questions and be prepared for something unexpected, maybe difficult or even disturbing. In our brokenness, we have anger and sadness but we can be honest it too. Consider how you got here, what is missing and why? What can we do from here to resurrect (as in transform) in whatever way God gives you.
Be liberated and changed by God. Peace of Christ is waiting.
To change from sadness to happiness and healing, prayerfully work through those challenges and seek real truth and wholeness! You will find it. These are ways for us to renew and open our minds to what God wants us to be – something beyond ourselves. When we do that, we allow for healing and growth - not just in ourselves, but our whole community.
Then, we witness the whole experience of love and justice; we just might get it.
Yes the world may feel at times like it’s bearing down from all sides like Psalm 4, but if we get it (if we truly get it) and let God be with us, then we are more than our frustrations, materialism, social medias and brokenness. We immerse in the potential and growth. We immerse in the “gladness of our hearts and nourishments in our souls” from God.
Beloved, you be witnesses of these things.
Thanks be to God.