Sermon by the Rev. Robert W. Landry
“They Shared What They Knew”
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Millinocket, Maine
January 15, 2017 – Epiphany 2
The Rev. Robert W. Landry
They shared what they knew, each from their own perspective, each as God gave to them. John – the prophet, with his own following, his own disciples, he pointed to Jesus and told them, “behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”
Andrew, the fisherman, who at John’s bidding, turned to Jesus and listened to him, he understood immediately that Jesus was a teacher, someone with much good to share, and went and told his brother about him, saying to him: “We have found the Messiah.”
They shared what they knew, what they believed, what they hoped. And we should thank God today for them, and for those like them today. We should thank God today for John, a man not afraid to decrease so that Jesus might increase. We should thank God for his witness and for how it spoke to his friend Andrew. And we should thank God for how Andrew, though he was untutored in the faith and had just met Jesus briefly, was eager to speak to his own brother about him and how he was the promised one, the Messiah.
Without them and their willingness to proclaim, and to point out, and to teach and to share Jesus with others, we would not be here today, we would not know the blessing of faith, we would not know what it was to be a member of the family of God, we would not know our ultimate destiny, we would not be able to hope for the promised world to come.
John the Baptist and Andrew, and later Simon Peter, Philip, Nathaniel, John, Luke, Paul, and all the rest, found something, discovered something, knew something, something important to them, and they told others about it. They told the people around them, and some of them, travelled so that they could tell people they had never met before, so that they could tell them about Jesus.
Who brought you into the faith? Who shared with you the fact that Jesus takes away the sin of the world? Who, by words and actions, encouraged you to first pray? Who, by example, and by teaching, brought you to the point of giving your life to Christ? Thank God for them. I thank God for the Cursillo Movement who taught me that there is a man called Jesus and that he came to this world so that all may have forgiveness of sin and a rich and abundant life? I thank God for man named Ron whose conversation was filled with references to God, who believed that it made more sense to talk about what a Spiritual life is and how it can lead one to give their heart and life to Christ. Rather than running from a life of abundance.
I thank God for a priest and a friend named Lance, who urged me to ask God what he wanted me to do with my life and who spoke unceasingly of God’s love and power and how it exists either tapped or untapped, all around us in the spirit of God. I thank God for all the spiritual people in my life who reminded me that Jesus still is and that with him all adversity is but a passing thing, that his love is forever and that it overcomes and makes worthwhile all the tribulation we may encounter.
I thank God for them and for many others who shared with me what they knew and understood and believed to be true about Jesus and about his special role in God’s kingdom and his special power here, in the lives of those who believe in him. I thank God for them because they have helped me to discover what I needed to discover. They helped me to form my relationship with Christ, and thereby they have given me a life which I would not trade for any other.
Who do you thank God for? Who has ministered to you in the name of Christ who boldly told you that there is one who can help you live your life day by day with joy and with peace and with assurance deep in your mind and your heart? Who sent you to him, who gave you a bible to read, who showed you how to pray, who told you that there is someone important that you should meet and talk to and follow, and that his name is Jesus?
You should thank God for them. And having thanked God for those who drew you to the faith, the next question is who thanks God for your witness? To whom do you go? Who do you see? And what do you speak of when you are with them? Who do you show to the people you meet each day? What do you witness to while working at the office or wherever you work or when you gather with your friends for a game of cards or a simple cup of coffee?
Jesus is warm and inviting my friends. He invites us, as he invited Andrew and the other disciples, to come and see where he is staying. He invites us into his home, into his presence, into his life and then he shares his life with us. But first we must hear about him, first we must be introduced. Do you know someone who is crushed by a load of guilt, Jesus takes it away! Do you know someone who is full of darkness? Someone who constantly worries about the state of the world or the state of their own life? Jesus can shine in that darkness. Do you know someone who is bitter and angry? Jesus can overcome it!
His word brings new life to old dry bones. But first these people who are in need have to hear about Jesus. They have to be introduced to him. My friends, we do not need any special qualifications to be a witness to Christ. We don’t need anything except our conviction that everyone needs God and that God has come for everyone. That conviction, that hope, is the key to it all however. Perhaps you have noticed that a severe condition has afflicted certain members of our society? Quiet, humble, non-assuming people, are suddenly turned overnight into loud, boastful, some might even say obnoxious, individuals. They go about talking incessantly about something that they think we ought to be interested in. They are excited and can’t seem to contain themselves, they got to talk about what has happened to them. Got any idea of who I am talking about? These transformed individuals are known as new grandparents. Would you like to see a picture?
What I am trying to say here is that when we have something we want to say, we almost always find a way to say it. In the same way a new grandparent, or a new father or mother has no problem in speaking about their special child, so we as
believers in the Christ should have no problem in speaking of the wonder that he brings into our lives. We don’t need a course in how to testify about God’s love and how to give our witness to Christ. We don’t need a Bible or theology degree to share the good news. We just got to want to… we just got to want to share what we know, what we value, and if we want to share and even if we don’t want to, but decide to do it anyway as an act of obedience and of faith, the scripture says that the Holy Spirit will give us utterance; that God will give us the words we need.
John the Baptist was in a place and in a situation where he could simply point to Jesus and say to his disciples, behold the Lamb of God. And he did. No bones about it. But then John was used to standing out in a crowd, he was used to speaking out in front of people. Andrew, on the other hand, well Andrew is most instructive for us, because Andrew began where he was, he began at home, with
his brother. He told Simon quite simply that he had found the Messiah and then to avoid confusion, to avoid needless complication, Andrew does something both simple and profound, instead of trying to say more, he takes Simon to meet Jesus, he
takes Simon to where Jesus is to be found. And that’s what it is all about getting folk to the place where they will meet Jesus with us. All of us can do that, we can get people to the place where Jesus is to be found, where Jesus can issue his own personal invitation to come and see.
We can get them to that place if we but start opening our mouths and talking
about what we have found for ourselves and what it means to us personally, just as a grandparent speaks of his or her grandchild. As I talk here today about how John and Andrew shared what they knew and about how we, like them, can be about sharing Christ.
I want to be clear that I am not talking about us going out and getting results, about us getting a feather in our cap, or about filling this church or about getting some form of gold star on our report card. None of that is important, none of that is what it means to be a follower of Christ. We can’t earn our way into heaven by doing good deeds nor by growing our own franchise of dedicated Christians. Rather what I am talking about is that something that should be burning away down in your gut somewhere, that urge to jump and say, I don’t care what the question or problem is, the answer is Jesus!
At times we get so confused by the wiles of the worldly, by those who are opposed to anyone who may be in danger of developing a strong and effective faith
We are made to feel that when we know Jesus we really don’t know anything of practical use. We are made to feel that Prayer is OK, but only if you do counselling or go to the doctor as well. We are made to feel that bible study is acceptable, but only if you treat the book as ancient history. And, most of all in our society, we are made to feel that telling others about God is wrong, unless they first ask us about
him. We are made to feel that what we know, what we believe, is unwelcome news and that no-one wants to hear about it uninvited.
I am here to tell you: Don’t listen to the world my friends. Listen to your heart. Listen to the hope that is in you, the hope you have in Christ. Listen to his voice and start to share what you believe, what you hope, what you know and where you are at. I have met the one who takes away the sin of the world. I have met the one who lifted from me the burdens and the anxieties and the guilt I used to feel.
If you share for the joy of sharing and not for some kind of legal reason.
If you share because you want to share, because you think it is a good thing to do,
then you will know what to say, and how to say it. It will come out from inside you, and as you share, and most others will share with you. I still remember the first time I shared my new faith with someone and how I told them that I believed in Jesus Christ, and even better yet, that Jesus believed in me, that God believed in
me and that God was helping me to get my life together. As we share Christ with others, Christ becomes even more real to us. For God honors his word and lifts up those who lift him up. My prayer for you all is that your faith might become ever more real. The bottom line here and the lesson of Christ concerning this is, the more you give it away the more you share it, the more you have. This is all found promised in the gospel of Jesus Christ.