St. Philip Lutheran Church
18 April 2021 + Third Sunday of Easter
Rev. Josh Evans, preaching
You are witnesses of these things.
YOU are witnesses of these things. You, the people of God in this place - seated here in-person or watching online from home. In Glenview, in Florida, and everywhere in between. You, in the midst of your neighborhoods and communities - to the homebound widow next door, to the coworker in the office down the hall, to the classmate who sits alone at lunch, to the clerk at the grocery store who’s been on her feet for seven hours of an eight-hour shift. YOU are witnesses of these things.
You ARE witnesses of these things. Today, now, in the year of our Lord 2021. The “perfect” opportunity may never come. If we wait for the “perfect” set of circumstances, or until we have the “right” words, or when we think we’re ready, we may be waiting for a while. There is an urgency to our witness, an urgency to our message of new life and hope that Easter brings. You ARE witnesses of these things.
You are WITNESSES of these things. In a court of law, a witness testifies to events they have seen with their eyes and heard with their ears. Real events, about real people. You are witnesses to a profound, life-giving message, and a real, resurrected Savior. Your words, your actions, your very presence and the way you move in the world are a witness. “Preach the gospel at all times,” St. Francis says, “and if necessary, use words.” You are WITNESSES of these things.
You are witnesses of THESE THINGS. With Mary, we bear witness to the angel’s message: “You will conceive and bear a son.” With the shepherds, we go with great haste to the manger, and we go on our way glorifying and praising God for the good news of great joy we have experienced. In the synagogue at Nazareth, we hear the startling proclamation of the beginning of Jesus’s ministry: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives, to let the oppressed go free.”
You are witnesses of THESE THINGS. With the disciples, we bear witness to exorcism upon exorcism, healing upon healing, parable upon parable, teaching upon teaching. “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” “Do not worry... do not be afraid, little flock.” “Rejoice with me, for I have my found lost sheep, my lost coin, my lost son.” “Let the little children come to me.”
You are witnesses of THESE THINGS. With the enormous crowds, we have seen his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and in the intimacy of a meal among friends, we have heard his tender offer: “This is my body.” We have followed from the trial to the cross, and we have stood with the centurion who bears witness to Jesus’s innocence.
You are witnesses of THESE THINGS. With Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women, we bear witness to the surprise of the empty tomb, and with Cleopas and the other disciple, our hearts burned within us as Jesus spoke on the way to Emmaus, even though we didn’t know it was him.
You are witnesses of THESE THINGS - and so much more.
You are witnesses of the life, death, and resurrection of the Messiah who changes everything. Of the God who has conquered even death itself. Of the God who reaches into the grave and pulls us up by the hand.
There is no place we can go where our God has not already been — not even in the darkest depths of despair, grief, anxiety, addiction, isolation, or fear.
Indeed, there is nothing you can do to make God love you any more, and there is nothing you can do to make God love you any less.
You are witnesses of THESE THINGS.
YOU are witnesses of these things.
Alleluia, Christ is risen!