Click here for this Sunday’s bulletin: Mission Festival-in 8×11 format.rtf
This past Sunday we celebrated our annual Mission Festival. Prof. David Sellnow from Martin Luther College was our guest speaker; thus I did not prepare a sermon last week (although see below the picture for the gist of the sermon I delivered at our local nursing home today.)
Prof. Sellnow preached on Acts 8:26-40 — the Ethiopian eunuch’s instruction and baptism by Philip the deacon. Prof. Sellnow reminded us that we don’t need to be official pastors or missionaries to spread God’s Word, and that the spiritual benefits can be enormous for those whom we talk to. Our worship also included Holy Communion.
After the service we enjoyed a bountiful potluck, and Prof. Sellnow gave a short presentation on tips for witnessing one’s faith, based on Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well in John chapter 4. It was an edifying, delicious, and enjoyable day for all involved. Mission Festival is one of those things that could be seen as an interruption or imposition on the church’s calendar which developed through long use, but it can be of great benefit if you do it right. I’m not opposed to such days in the church, provided that they don’t overrun or obliterate the church year. It’s good to draw attention to stewardship or evangelism or missions or what have you at different points in the year.
Come, and you will see. (John 1:39)
Sometimes you look back and marvel. When I look back on the day I was confirmed, how did I grasp, even dimly, the magnitude of the promise I was making on that day — to be faithful to my Lord until death? Maybe it was the day you got married, or the day your children were baptized, or the first time you received Holy Communion. Some moments stay with you forever.
For two of John the Baptist’s disciples, Jesus’ words must have been such a time. How often they must have thought back and marveled at everything that was contained in that short utterance of Our Lord! His words were an invitation to follow Him — to throw in their lot with Him, to share His rejection and hardships, to identify themselves with the Man who would be crucified as a criminal for the sins of the world. Hardships and sorrow unimaginable would be their lot, because they were apostles of Christ — and for no other reason. They would suffer greatly for their Lord, to the point that they would become the scum of the earth, as Paul expressed it — that Jesus’ saying that “all men will hate you because of Me” would be fully justified. If they had known that going into it, would they have followed Him so readily?
But not only suffering was their lot when they responded to these words. Jesus’ words also contain the promise of eternal life, because at that very moment, the Man that stood before them and invited them to His lodging was also the God who inhabits the highest heaven. In John 14, Jesus says that He is going away to prepare mansions for His believers, “so that you also may be where I am.” Not “where I was,” not “where I will be” — where I am. Even at that very moment, Jesus was in heaven just as surely as He walked the earth in Judea. He’s God, and God is everywhere. By following Jesus when He says, “Come and you will see,” these men are embarking on a great adventure of faith — a long and arduous journey, to be sure, but one full of promise and the reward of eternal glory at its end, given by the same Lord who called them to His service.
Think about everything those apostles were privileged to see, because they obeyed Jesus’ word here. They saw the dead raised. They saw Jesus walk on the water — feed ten thousand with a few bites of bread — still the storm — change water into wine — drive out leprosy and banish sickness and paralysis with just a word. They saw their Lord, their Teacher, their best and truest Friend, whipped, beaten, spat on, and crucified naked before the world — and they saw Him alive again, walking among them, teaching them, no longer shielding His glory from their eyes, breaking the bread at Emmaus and teaching them the eternal Scriptures which spoke always and only of Him. All because they heeded “Come, and you will see.”
Jesus gives us that same invitation every day. His Word still beckons us to follow Him, and we don’t need to know what the road ahead of us is like as long as we know the One whom we’re following. He still calls us every day to come and see what He will do for us — come and see where He will lead us and what He wants us to do. We were first called in the waters of our baptism, where we were washed and cleansed and made His children. His call first sounded in our hearts that day when He gave us His Holy Spirit along with the water and the Word.
Now every day is a challenge to rise to for Christ — a beckoning to a new adventure, the greatest of all: that of faith in the Son of God. “Come and you will see.” What will you see? What will He show you? I can’t tell you specifics, but I can tell you this: He who has called us is faithful, and that will not change. “Come and you will see.” Amen.