Why Am I HERE? Because I Have a Call to Bear Witness

(Series of laity stand & read… “I’m (name) and I have (done),

for Jesus Christ.” 1. I’m a Work Camper and I fix houses & mend hearts for Jesus. 2. I’m a Volunteer in Mission and I’ve been to the Gulf & in our own community praying, cleaning, restoring. 3. I’m

Mary Reed. I founded Chandag Leper House in India. (I am a leper.) 4. I’m Francis… Asbury… and I volunteered to reform the American continent for Christ. 5. I’m William Booth. Catherine and I founded the Salvation Army. 6. I’m Mary McLeod Bethune, a missionary to Africa and founder of Bethune-Cookman College. 7. I’m Francis Willard, founder of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. I free folks from addiction. 8. I’m Hannah Ball. With Robert Rakes I began the worldwide Sunday School Movement. 9. I’m called Dozens. From Nichols-Bethel, I get elder folks to the doctors, build homeless houses on 3 continents, teach scores of kids about the love of Jesus, take meals to the sick and tell people about Jesus whenever I get the chance. 10. I’m called Dozens More. I’m here at Nichols-Bethel and looking to make a difference for Jesus Christ.

WHAT IS IT ALL THESE HAVE IN COMMON?… Three things.

All have seen Jesus.

Because they have seen, all show and tell Jesus.

All are United Methodists and witnesses… for Jesus!

Witnesses! That’s what we call folks who’ve seen stuff. And know stuff. And then show and tell the stuff they know. Oh, we’ve been asking now, all across this month. “Why is it you and I are here?” We’ve said we’re here because we have a practical need for the Book. ‘Have a heart for the Father. And want to grow like Christ. It’s all so. All of it. But we dare not leave this series/our church or this, the Lord’s Day unless we say: I want to be a witness!

It’s not important whether anybody knows your name or not. Afterall, how many did you know from the list we’ve shared? It is only important that we know ONE NAME, one face, one heart. (Jesus). He’s the one who promises the Holy Spirit. (Acts: 8-11) ‘Power for living…in a holy way. But to know Jesus places us squarely in the sights of the same angels who speak to the believers at the beginning of the church. “Men [and women] of Galilee, why do you stand looking up in the air? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (1: 11) Do we get it? Jesus doesn’t go to heaven to have a nice time. A grand eternity. He goes (at the cost of the cross!) to open the gates, only to return to take us with him. To know this Jesus is to have a hope for yourself… grand enough to share. You and I come here week after week to get to know the Jesus who brings walk-on-the-water hope in the teeth of the storm. Whatever your storms may be. We come to know the Jesus who chases away a thousand demons. Remember Legion, the demon-possessed dude out among the graves? Jesus sent his torments packin’, clothed him in his right mind and dressed him for return to the life God had always meant for him to live. Friends, our demons are no more, or stronger. I may not know what’s got you livin’ like you were dead already, out there among the grave markers of decaying promises, broken relationships, and fading dreams. But I do know that should you run into Jesus, like old Legion, your demons can be put to flight. You can believe that, trust that, dress up in that and come home to the life God’s been dreaming and you’ve been prayin' for. This is the Jesus who will sweat blood for his friends. And he has said of us, “I call you my friends.” (Jn. 15:15)

You and I, friends for whom Christ lays down his life. (Mmm. Mmm.)

“This Jesus, will come in the same way as you saw him go.” (1:11)

And he’ll be coming for us: (Jn. 14) that we’ll be where he is!

So what are we standing and sitting around for? This is no time for heaven-gazing. “It’s time for hell-razing,” as my friend Calvin Williams would like us to say. He just spells it with a “z”. (Oh, that raising.) “Openin’ up heaven is about bustin’ up hell,” Calvin would say. When we know Jesus we know there’s a better way, a better life, a better outcome than we’ve seen any other way. Bishop May used to put the same thing this way. “Jesus comes to clean up the MESS, yours, mine, ours… That’s Misery and Evil Side by Side. And Jesus gives us a piece of his own grave-cloth and says, “Here, start wipin’ and shinin’ with me, side by side!” Old Bobby Bishop used to look across his ebony face at me and flash his ivory smile and say, “Young man (I was one once), don’t try knowin’ Jesus and not doin’ Jesus, ‘God is not mocked’. Don’t you use this summer of your life sowin’ corn… expectin’ to reap beans!” Bobby and the Bible ring right. We reap what we sow. We are called to do and show what we’ve seen and know. Witnesses! That’s us!

Why do we come on this summer Sunday. Why here? Because we have a calling to bear witness to Jesus Christ. And The Church, and this church of the Whole Church, give us the window through which to see Christ. ‘And the doors through which to go out and be like and serve Christ. Whenever we take in new members here, we gather them beforehand to explore and adventure in what it means to be bound to Christ through membership in the church. We lay out certain commitments membership entails. And we lay out the commitments we make as a church to every member. Here’s one of the key covenants. We commit to provide everyone some place where they can “make a difference.” A difference for others: loved ones, neighbors, fellow members of Christ’s Body, even the world. And in so doing, a difference for God. Maybe as a pray-er. ‘Untold the stories, staggering the mercies the prayers and pray-ers of this place have witnessed. Maybe as a giver. This place converts cash into kindness, dollars into delivery of hope and strength and eternal words… and pocket change into life changing ministries in 80 countries and more. We keep malaria off of moms/babies with Nothing-but-Net, put health workers & clean water in Afghanistan, and soul-saving faith in the hearts of Brazilian farmers. Oh, maybe you will make a difference simply as a worshiper. Some “It’s too hot Sunday, or sleep-in Sabbath when you awake with a case of “Why bother?” ask yourself this. Is there somebody my company will encourage today? Somebody I can strengthen… just by bein’ there today? Maybe you’ll make a difference like our work campers. I’ve saved lots of thank you notes across the years. Lots from work camps. I treasure one from 1986 that says, “I’d lost hope ‘til your kids found me.” “It wasn’t ‘til they left I saw it was God, alookin’ for me through them. Please tell them I’m found. And I got a good house now, thanks to them. And a better one comin’. Jesus is gettin’ it ready for me now.”

In case you’re wondering, we’re here because we’re called: to bear a witness. Once we’ve seen, we tell and show the Christ we know!

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