the one about being a witness...
March 28, 2016, 9:00 AM

Sermon from Easter Sunday, 3/27/2016

Text: Luke 24: 1-12

Grace and peace to you from God our creator and our Lord and savior Jesus who is the Christ – will y’all pray with me? Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer. Amen!

Welcome to each and every one of you who has gathered here to worship this morning as together we get to celebrate our Lord Jesus Christ’s resurrection. No matter how you got here this morning – because it’s tradition, because you were curious, because you were dragged here – know this; today is the most important day of the year. This is the day that God’s promise to creation is made known to the world.

This is the day in which we celebrate that in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ – God is victorious over sin and death. Where God has shown this great love to us in Jesus’ death and in his rising from the tomb. We get to celebrate all those other wonderful, holy, and special days in our life and in the life of the church because this day we remember that the tomb was empty.

This is a day that we celebrate and we do. Our worship this morning is packed with symbolism and with the gifts shared by all of you this morning – in our presence, our voices, our music, our words. Today is a wonderful day.

But, I think at times there is a part of this day that gets only a little attention and screen time. Which is understandable, the image of the stone rolled away is a pretty powerful one.

But, let’s break this story down a little bit. Perhaps to hear it again as if for the first time.

Throughout this week we have been walking through the story of our Lord’s final days before his resurrection. Jesus has shared a meal with his friends where he gives them – and us – a new commandment.

To love one another as he has loved us. To live and show that love so all will know who and whose we are; even if it means placing yourself into situations and stations in life that others would think are beneath you – much like Jesus stooping down to wash the feet of his friends and disciples.

We then journeyed to the cross. The place where Jesus died. We remembered the sin of our lives. We remembered the price God paid to show us what love looks like.

Even some others continued on in remembering the promises that God has made throughout history. Where God was and had been made known in countless ways throughout our shared history as a part of God’s people.

All of that – a meal, love, death, promise, presence and more have led to this morning, to this moment where we are gathered here to celebrate the blessed emptiness. The empty tomb. The stone rolled away. The burial clothes neatly rolled and folded.

And we know all this – not only because God has done this – but we know and celebrate all this because of one word that is usually rushed over in the excitement, confusion, and the general ‘what the what?’ attitude that comes from hearing and reading this wonderful story.

That word of course – is witness.

Witness is a cool word. A word that for many of us is pretty familiar. We’re familiar with that word because really it’s all around us. Especially on our televisions. Dare Devil. Better Call Saul. Matlock. The Good Wife. Law & Order. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Law & Order: Criminal Intent. Law & Order: LA. There’s a lot of legal drama shows on TV – lots of them.

But, as familiar with the word and role of a ‘witness’ as we are, I think we take it for granted quite often. It is used so often in our lives that we have kind of lost its true meaning. Some might know witness from the numerous legal dramas. Some might know witness simply from the depiction (and in some cases the reality) of churches portrayed in the media – where a witness is someone who yells ‘AMEN!’ as a pastor calls for the witness, any witness, during his or her sermon.

The way we usually define a witness is someone who sees something; who happens to notice a person, an action, or an issue. They see it. They’re a witness.

But, being a witness is more than just seeing something. It isn’t so much that the women who came to prepare and tend to Jesus’ body saw that he wasn’t there. It isn’t so much that they saw the stone rolled away. It isn’t so much that they saw a stranger telling them that Jesus had gotten up.

What they saw was and is important. But, that isn’t what makes them witnesses of the resurrection – witnesses of the holy emptiness.

These women are witnesses because they told others what they saw – or actually what they didn’t see.

The women shared the story. The women told those around them. The women spread the news. The women proclaimed. The women preached. The women were witnesses.

Being a witness not only requires seeing, but it also requires action. It requires telling others of what you saw and experienced.

We are here this morning because the women saw, shared, and proclaimed. They were witnesses to God’s love and new-life.

And where does that leave us this day? Where does that lead us this day as we begin the Easter season?

It isn’t so much that we see and hear the good news of what God has done in Christ’s victory over sin and death. It isn’t so much that we gather this morning to hear this story. We are called to be witnesses of Christ’s resurrection.

To share, to be with, to show, to point, to walk with others so that they too – so that we all – can continue to share in the love that God has blessed us with because of the empty tomb.

We are called to be witnesses of Christ’s love and resurrection. To share in this love and this story for all when others feel that those around them because of how they look, act, or where they might be from are unworthy to be here.

We are called to be witnesses of God’s presence in the world because the tomb is empty. So that we can proclaim the gospel to a young couple that because the tomb is empty God is here with them in love as they bury their infant son who never breathed life.

We are called to be witnesses of God’s love and grace. To talk in love with those who feel all hope is lost, who feel unloved, unworthy, who feel no one cares, or would notice their absence. To talk of God’s love for them in the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus – for us.

We are called to be witnesses – just as those first women at the empty tomb were.

And that can be scary and crazy – just as those women were bewildered and awed as well.

Yet, that is the call that God has placed on us and we don’t do it alone. We witness together. We witness in community. We witness with Chris dwelling – living – within us.

We see and hear. We share, tell, proclaim. We are witnesses to God’s love and grace in Jesus’ resurrection. Amen.

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