Sunday message: Telling and retelling

Second Sunday of Epiphany – January 19, 2020

Scriptures:
Isaiah 49:1-7
1 Corinthians 1:1-9
John 1:29-42

A well-known minister once spoke about the most favourite hymn of all hymns. He said there’s a word in it that actually needs to be changed. It goes: “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” He says it should be “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the eyewitnesses tell me so.” How appropriate of him to say so! The movement that God started, which later became known as the church, didn’t start from the Bible. The Bible didn’t exist at the time when this movement started. The Bible came into being much later. This movement started from eyewitnesses sharing the story about Jesus the Son of God over and over. Everything we know about Jesus, we know because of what people taught, shared or demonstrated to us.

There are many things we get taught.

When we start thinking about it, isn’t it odd to think about how we ever got to know all the things we know? Just think of it, there’s no way we would know much if it weren’t for someone sharing these things with us. Everything that we have in our brain comes from someone conveying the information to us. Whether it be a teacher, a parent, the internet or a film, we get it from an outside source. 1.)

When we learn and know something, it’s all about someone referring the information to the next person.

I know that it was my dad who taught me how important it is to sand a surface, dust it off and make sure it is smooth before I can apply paint to it.

Today I know that it’s common sense to paint a surface with primer, then sand it lightly, paint it with the real paint and go over the surface with another layer so that the finishing is smooth. This I learned from my father. However, I didn’t learn to drive a car from my dad, because he was simply way too impatient for that.

Today I still vividly remember how my mom took me to an uphill, let me stop, pull up the handbrake and then take off smoothly by using the stick-shift and clutch in the proper way. It took many, many repetitions until I got it down pat. My mom had the patience and it seems that I have a similar temperament to my mom’s, because it was my job to teach each of our three children how to drive a stick-shift car. Coming to think of it, what my mom shared with me wasn’t the art of driving a car, but rather the attitude of patience.

This goes to show that knowledge and skills get transferred from one person to the next because someone is sharing it with the next person, quite often from generation to generation. 

Looking at today’s passage from John, we see this happening. John the Baptist is present and then Jesus comes along. John speaks up and says that Jesus is the Lamb of God.

By saying this, John is pointing away from himself. He points out the way in which God is the author of life, writing a story into God’s own Son, Jesus, the Lamb of God. This story ties into many centuries before, when God’s people were fleeing from bondage in Egypt. The Festival of Passover celebrates God’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt. The Israelites were spared from the divine plague sent to kill all the firstborn of Egypt with the blood of the lamb being smeared on the doorposts so that the homes of the Israelites would be secure. The story of Passover tells of protection and deliverance. This story, in a sense, is written into each one who believes in Jesus. Through Jesus God promises to protect and deliver us. Jesus, the ultimate Lamb of God, came to restore the relationship between God and people. What is said here, begins with John and just as we heard it in our Scripture reading, it is John’s testimony. What God made known to John, is what John is testifying, also to those around him. This news was shared from one person to the next, and soon it became the Good News. It turned into the Christian movement. As time went by this news was rapidly multiplied over and over by eyewitnesses so that it became widely known, not only intellectually, but also as a real lived experience. By being vulnerable, the Lamb of God, Jesus, brought life to you and me. 

God continues to be the author of life, writing until this day into the lives of each of us in these pews. Never underestimate the stories of life that your lives tell. 

You know how we get asked, “who is the role-model in your life?” I was asked that question and never found the real role-model until I pondered one day and realized that there was one person in my life who stands out head and shoulders. It was my grandmother on my dad’s side. Speaking of generation to generation and of telling and retelling… She was born in 1895, just before the Anglo-Boer War, told us how she, along with her mother and siblings, was in a Concentration Camp in Winburg in the Free State in South Africa, how they survived that experience. God continued being the author of life for her. She went on, after completing high school to become a much-loved school teacher. Her subject was English. She held no grudges to the English of the Anglo-Boer war. Much more, she lived out her faith in Christ in humble ways until she died at the ripe old age of 96. This grandmother of mine imparted something into me that became the seed, telling and retelling the Gospel, about the Lamb of God, putting into motion a faith that can not be stopped, sometimes weak and sometimes stronger. Thanks be to God!


1.) This message partly gets its inspiration from a sermon by Joshua Bowron on https://episcopalchurch.org/library/sermon/testimony-epiphany-2-january-19-2020

Copyright 2020 – Heinrich Grosskopf, Minister of Dayspring Presbyterian Church

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