Sermon – December 14, 2014
The Rev. Rebecca S. Myers, CSW
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Corbin, KY
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. John 1:6-8
Please be seated.
For 56 years, I sat in the pews just like you. It was only on January 27, 2013, that I started wearing this collar. However, in some of my seminary classes, especially the Pastoral Theology classes taught by Professor Amy Bentley Lamborn, and in Clinical Pastoral Education, we talked about how people might relate to us once we had our collar on.
Wearing this collar and shirt means different things to different people. Some people are comforted or feel trust towards me. Some people feel frightened or angry. It all depends upon your own experiences.
Wearing this collar is a way to testify that I am an ordained person in the Christian Church. My ordination certificate even says the people are well assured of my: “sober, honest and godly Life and Conversation, competent Learning, Knowledge of the holy Scriptures, and Soundness in the faith.”
At my Ordination to the priesthood (found on page 532 of the Book of Common Prayer), I promised to do my best “to pattern [my] life (and that of my family or household or community) in accordance with the teachings of Christ, so that [I] may be a wholesome example to my people.”
So I put on this collar often as a testimony and witness of my belief in Jesus Christ and my calling to be a priest in the church. And yet, there are times when I’m not really such a great witness, I fear….
For instance, one day I was traveling back to Corbin from Lexington. My car sports a St. John’s license plate on the front. If you don’t have one, ask me about getting one. I had to stop at Wal-Mart for hot dog rolls. It was a Wednesday and we were having activities in the park and I was buying more hot dog rolls to go with the hot dogs. I was in a big hurry, too.
Well, that was when they were doing construction and S. Stewart Road/Sawyers Rd. was only one lane each way. The first entrance to Wal-Mart, there by the gas station and Dairy Queen, was blocked by tractor trailers. The woman in front of me was trying to get to Wal-Mart, but couldn’t get in, because of the blockage. And I couldn’t get around her either. There’s another entrance to Wal-Mart further down the road and when the woman didn’t seem to know that, I started honking my horn and pointing to her to go up further to the next entrance.
Well, I kept honking and pointing and yelling – go on ahead, but she only got angry and got out of her car. I tried yelling out my window that she could go to the next entrance, but she wouldn’t listen. The trucker blocking the entrance to Wal-Mart even got into the game, giving me dirty looks and then he pointed at the front of my car with the St. John’s license plate on it and gave me a really dirty look and yelled at me. I’m not sure if he saw my collar or not.
Clearly, I was not a good representative of The Episcopal Church in Corbin that day. I was trying to be helpful, but I was more interested in getting my own tasks done than in being a witness for God.
Today, we once again hear about John the Baptist. In the Gospel of John, we learn that John the Baptist made it clear he was not the Messiah. Many people thought he might be. The Gospel writer makes it clear that John the Baptist was a “witness to testify to the light.” We, too, are called to “testify to the light, so that all might believe….”
What does that mean? Well, to testify, according to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, means “to make a statement based on personal knowledge or belief : bear witness.” We are called to bear witness to the truth of Jesus Christ…to testify what it means to be a follower of Christ. We do that with words, sharing our story of faith. But more importantly, we testify with our actions…with how we live our daily lives.
It’s surely not easy. There is plenty of professed following of Christ in our community, but you’d never know it by the way we treat each other and the conditions we create – the poverty, cruelty, homelessness, seeking revenge. No, giving witness to Christ…following Christ….testifying to the truth of Jesus Christ…to love as the key…to loving our neighbor as ourselves…to putting God first, is extremely hard.
Now, I have my collar and shirt that help remind me and some of us have the license plate on the front of our cars. We have this Sunday morning service and Wednesday evening service where we can get centered again…hear scripture, sing together, pray prayers together, ask for forgiveness and be forgiven, break bread together, to remind us of our testimony and of our calling to testify and bear witness to Jesus Christ.
This week, think about how you testify and bear witness to Jesus Christ. Be aware.
You see, we are all “sent from God.” We have come as witnesses “to testify to the light, so that all might believe …..” We are “not the light,” but we come “to testify to the light.”