The Second Sunday After Epiphany
Sermon starts at 19:25 in the recording
Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that your people, illumined by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ’s glory, that he may be known, worshipped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
I was told very early on in my pursuit of becoming a pastor that much of my leadership of others would come from my actions and not my words. I needed to pay attention to my practices.
I was encouraged to make sure my “talk” matched my “walk.”
I understood this truth well before the encouragement to live it.
My biggest hang up about church people was that they could be very hypocritical.
I did not want to become that which I despised.
It has come to my attention since learning and living this truth that there is also another issue that can come about in others learning from me.
They will follow my bad examples as well as my good ones.
At the end of the sermon from last week, I said this:
“It is in our following that we give others direction.”
A follow up to that truth is this:
Know well who you are following.
The people that Jesus invited to “Come and See” and to “Follow Me” were those who had seen something in Him that gave them confidence in Who they were following.
When I told the story of the woman who needed a tire, my intention that day was simply to get her vehicle safe for her. It was intended to be an act of kindness that God implores all of us to model. The greater good from that day was that an act of kindness motivated another to kindness. What I wish I knew is what happened to the others that day because of a simple act? Did this lady feel loved and then felt safe for that day (maybe something that has been missing from her life)? Did the manager see people differently that day as they came into his store and change his behavior towards others (who, in turn, changed their behavior towards those they encountered)?
I’ll never know.
What I do know is that our actions can encourage others to do the same.
Take Jesus’ words in the story of a woman who is caught in the act of adultery from the beginning of John chapter 8.
A crowd had gathered to punish a woman who had violated God’s law. They were trying to test Jesus (and put Him in an uncomfortable situation).
“Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”
Then Jesus changed the direction of the conversation.
Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground.
This caused the accusers to leave the woman alone.
Jesus had, rightly, pointed out we are all guilty and in violation of the Law (and therefore deserving of the same punishment that the accusers wanted to carry out on the woman).
When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, sir.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.”
Jesus, by His actions, says, “Follow Me.”
By our actions, we live “Follow Me.”
I have learned to never underestimate the power of God,
working in us,
to change the lives of those around us.
At the very least, we should understand the power of influence through the sharing of our story.
This is the call of “Come and see.”
through our lives,
through our actions
communicating a “Come and see” attitude about Jesus?