Open to Witness

A sermon by Pastor Michael Pahl on September 30, 2018, called “Open to Witness.” The sermon is the fourth in a series exploring our church vision and mission statements.

Here is a written excerpt:

There’s a recurring phrase throughout these two passages (Luke 9:1-6 and 10:1-11), a phrase that gets us at the heart of what “witness” or even “mission” means. Listen again to these snippets from our Scripture passages:

“…he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God…” (9:2)

“…say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you’…” (10:9)

“…‘know this: the kingdom of God has come near’…” (10:11)

This is, in fact, the “gospel” or “good news” that Jesus himself proclaimed. At the beginning of his ministry in Galilee he declared, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God…for I was sent for this purpose” (4:43).

And that was his first sermon in his hometown synagogue, remember?

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.

“Today,” he said to his family and friends, “this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” This good-news gospel promise of God’s kingdom come near bringing justice and freedom and healing and peace—this is now happening!

This, then is the “something” that we as Christians are bearing witness to: God’s reign of justice and peace and life has come near to us in Jesus.

We have seen and experienced God’s kingdom come near. We have seen and experienced God’s kingdom come near

in unexpected deeds of mercy when we lay battered and bloody by the road of life,

in startling moments of sheer joy or quickening hope when we were being swallowed by sorrow and despair,

in unexplainable experiences of deep healing—physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually,

in extraordinary acts of liberation or justice just when we most needed it and least expected it.

We have seen and experienced God’s kingdom come near.

We are all witnesses of God’s reign of justice and peace and life come near to us in Jesus. We don’t choose to be witnesses of God’s kingdom in Jesus—if we have seen and experienced these things, we simply are witnesses of God’s kingdom in Jesus.

So, the question is this: How are we supposed to be good witnesses? Exactly how are we supposed to bear witness to God’s kingdom come near through Jesus?

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