Preaching:  Rebecca A. Henry

Date Presented:  Sunday, May 8, 2016

Scripture Reference: Luke 24:44-53

Sermon: A Place to Call Home: Always Blessing, Always Blessed

 

We all need those people in our lives who encourage us, who bless us, who help us to believe in ourselves. We need those persons who build our self-confidence when we are feeling discouraged. They are persons we know we can always count on, who we can go back to time and again for support. For some of us on this Mother’s Day, we recognize this person has been our mother. For others, there is some other individual who has been our rock, our cheerleader when facing challenges.

In today’s reading the disciples come to realize this is true of Jesus even when he is not physically present. In our scripture reading today the disciples are once again facing the challenge of Jesus leaving. Only this time there is something different. Of course there is the obvious difference that the last time Jesus left the disciples alone it was in the agony of the cross and death whereas now they are experiencing the glory of seeing Jesus lifted up into heaven. But there is something more, something else that is different now.

After all, there are a number of similarities between the past and present. Both times Jesus tells the disciples their mission to go and be witnesses. Both before his death and now, again, Jesus promises them the help of the Holy Spirit. And while here in today’s passage we hear that Jesus is teaching them the scriptures, this is no new thing, for they had many days before his death of listening to Jesus teach. There are so many similarities to the experiences of Jesus leaving the disciples, but in today’s reading something is different, something has changed in the disciples.

This time their eyes and minds are opened to see all that God is doing, and so they are able to celebrate. Before all they saw, all they understood was what they were losing. They had felt abandoned by Jesus. They had argued with Jesus that he didn’t have to die. They were afraid of what was happening, of what was being asked of them, but not this time. The mission is no different. They are still being sent forth as witnesses. The world with their mission is still there before them, but now there is also joy and anticipation for their eyes aren’t merely focused on earthly things. Rather their eyes are lifted upward seeing the glory of the Lord. They see all that God has done through Jesus, and they are filled with joy.

That moment opens their eyes and heart to see all that God has done for them. They are able to receive Jesus’ blessing and know that they are not alone. They are not without the blessing and help of the Holy Spirit in the work that is before them. And so they worshipped Jesus, and they kept praising and blessing Jesus over and over again in the Temple. Their joy and worship of God makes them ready to answer the call. Their witness is grounded in their worship, in recognition of Christ’s blessings, and all the good news they have to share.

The same is true for us today. God sends us out into the world to be witnesses to all the marvelous things God is doing. Only we, too, can have our moments like the disciples, where we get weighed down by the work that is before us. We only see the challenges and limitations. We become afraid of resistance. We feel like the impossible is before us.

Yet today’s scripture reminds us those are the moments we need to lift our vision heaven-ward. Those are the times we need our eyes opened to see all the wonderful things God has done and is doing. Those are the times we need to come home again and worship, to experience fresh understanding through scripture, to be reminded of God’s promises and blessings. As witnesses to the good news of Jesus Christ we need worship as much as our bodies need food. Without worship our witness becomes dry and empty. But nor is worship ever intended to be all that we do. Rather our worship is intended to fill us, to awaken us, to open our eyes once again to see all that God has done so that when we go back through those doors, back into the world, our witness may flow with ceaseless praise.

That is what we see happening to the disciples. Their eyes have been opened to see all that God is doing. Their worship leads them out to be witnesses, with praises unending. It is what Matt Redman describes as he talks about his song, “10,000 Reasons.” Listen to his testimony of how when our eyes opened to see the glory of God, our witness, our praises, our songs flow easily. [Video]

We are given a monumental task to carry on the work of Jesus, to be his witnesses to the good news, and through our worship we find the strength, the desire, the will to answer that call. In our worship we are reminded we are not alone. Rather we see all the ways God has blessed us and prepared us for this moment. Our focus on God opens our eyes: we are sent out, but we are sent out with all of God’s blessings so that we can be witnesses to the good news.