“You are the witnesses of these things” – sermon for Easter 3, year B

Acts 3.12-19, Luke 24.36b-48

“You are the witnesses of these things”, Jesus tells his disciples, when they have seen him risen. “To this we are witnesses” says Peter, speaking about the healing, resurrecting power of Christ.

I wonder what it means to be a witness? A witness is one who has seen for themselves. But not just one who has seen – one who is ready to tell others what they have seen.

I wonder what difference it makes to see something for yourself, rather than just to hear about it? Let’s try something to help us explore that.

[Blindfold vicar.

Give ‘mystery object’ to children.

             Ask some children to start drawing ‘mystery object’, if not done earlier.]

Hugh can’t see what we’ve got here. And we’re not going to tell him exactly what it is. What clues can we give him to help him know more about it?

[Clues and guessing. Shape, colour, size, heavy/light, rough/smooth, hot/cold, etc.]

 I wonder how else we could help Hugh find out more about this thing? We could let him touch it. [Try that.] We could show him pictures of it. [Try that.] But the very best thing we could do is bring him over here to see it for himself.

Now how does that translate into how we witness to the Good News of the gospel, the Good News that Jesus has died and is risen for us, that God loves us more than we can imagine and always will – how do we witness to that?

Maybe we associate the idea of ‘witnessing’ with telling people, with using words. That’s certainly part of it, but there are so many other ways to witness to what God has done and, by the Holy Spirit, continues to do in the world. We could show people in pictures or music or drama or sculpture. We could tell the story of what we ourselves have experienced, in our own lives.

Better still, we can look for ways to see for themselves, to touch and taste for themselves, the presence of the risen Jesus in the here-and-now. We can do that by the example of our own lives: when we follow Jesus’ teaching; when we love unconditionally, as he has loved us; when we stand as he did with the poor and marginalised and oppressed; when we live as people filled with the Spirit of God.

We can also do it when we invite people in. Invite them into our lives, into the church, into our life together, into the communion we share with the risen Christ. Really, that invitation isn’t ours to give – and it certainly isn’t ours to withhold – Jesus has already invited everyone, we are just passing the invitation on. That’s why we always say here “all are welcome to receive the bread and wine of communion”.

These are just some suggestions to get us thinking about how we witness. I’m sure you will have other ideas to add. However we do it, the important thing is that we do it – however and wherever and whenever we can. That is the task Jesus gives to his disciples, to us. We who are witnesses must tell others, and bring others to see for themselves.

We need to make use of every means at our disposal to witness to the saving power of God’s love for everyone, in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We are Easter people, resurrection people. We are witnesses to the Good News. Let us tell and show and share that Good News everywhere, to everyone, in every way we can.

Now in a moment of quiet, let us reflect on what we, individually and as a church, can do to witness to our experience of God, and to the Good News of Jesus.

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