Summary: Just as the disciples were witnesses so to are we! This sermon looks at what we’ve witnessed and how were are to be a witness to others. (Heritage Sunday)
“Being Witnesses to These Things”
Heritage Sunday, May 4, 2003
Purpose: Just as the disciples were “witnesses” so to are we! This sermon looks at what we’ve witnessed and how to be a witness to others.
We have been witnesses…
As 2003 continues to move at a rapid pace (hint to all: Mother’s Day is next Sunday ), we also my be aware that this year we celebrate some important milestones in history…
We have witnessed a centennial…
100 years ago few people thought man would ever fly. But the two sons of Rev. Milton Wright, on Dec. 17, 1903, showed the world that it could it done. At 10:35 a.m., Wilbur and Orville made their first successful flight of 175 feet in an airplane driven by a four-cylinder combustion engine. Today, we fly much more sophisticated crafts around the moons of Juniper and beyond.
100 years ago, it seemed impossible, but today we’ve witnessed the evidence of that first flight all around us.
We’ve witnessed a tricentennial…
300 years ago, at a time when the borders of the U.S. stretched from the Atlantic to the Mississippi River, Napoleon, on the verge of war with Great Britain, gave this nation an 828,000 square mile piece of land at about three cents per acre. On May 2, 1803, the Louisiana Purchase doubled the size of the United States.
300 years ago it seemed impossible, but today we’ve witnessed the evidence of that great purchase as our nation now stretches from Atlantic to Pacific.
And we’ve witnessed another tricentennial…
300 years ago on June 17, 1703, a young boy name John was born to Rev. Samuel and Suzanna Wesley in Epworth, England. It was perhaps no surprise when the boy grew up to follow his father’s example. What was a surprise was the kind of ministry he implemented.
He formed a small religious study group, which put special emphasis on the methodical study of the Scriptures and devotion to the poor. They had communion often, fasted twice a week, and as they grew, they added other things: social services, visiting prisoners, and schools. Onlookers jeered them by calling them just a bunch of “methodists.”
Today that name “Methodist” has stuck. In fact, in almost every town in this country, there is evidence of John Wesley.
300 years ago it seemed impossible, but today if combined, there are more churches with a Weslyan heritage in the world than any other Protestant faith.
And these are just three. There are events in our own lives that we have witnessed as we’ve shared earlier. They are the witnessed events that amaze us, fill us with joy, and make it wonder whether it is possible. Sometimes it is hard to believe, even standing on this side of history, that these things were ever accomplished. But because of witnesses, we know them to be true.
Today, we’re going to look at another set of witnesses…
200 years ago, it was an impossible situation when 11 men gathered to discuss in private to plan their next move. They were frightened and confused. Life seemed to be closing in on them and it was not possible for them to continue their three-year-old ministry as they had originally intended.
The facts were these:
They were betrayed by one of their own.
The crowds that had once cheered them had now turned against them.
Their leader had been executed.
They had denied their relationship to him.
And any further development of their leader’s ideals, would almost certainly lead to their deaths as well.
But into this scene walks the last person they had expected to see. In fact, his presence startled them. But with the words “Peace be with you” their leader, who was thought to be gone, now stood before them in a way that forgave their past, brought joy to their present, and secured their future.
2000 years ago it seemed impossible that Jesus Christ would be alive once again, but today we are witnesses to the Resurrection, which not only changed the disciples lives, filling them with joy, strength, and courage, but also changed ours as we continue to follow that very same leader to this day.
Personal Illustration…SMC graduation
…Dr. Illene Shaffer - had to be “inclusive” – in the last letter(three days before the commencement)
…still prayed for salvation, still asked the speaker’s words to be God’s words
…still prayed in the name of our Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer
…why? because I felt that I still needed to “witness”
For me this was an excellent exercise…
I could have said “no.” In fact, I probably would have if given earlier notice. But the programs had already been printed and Wakelee’s name was already out there.
Instead I witnessed to the saving message of Jesus Christ in a language that they could accept.