Something worth saying
2 Peter 1:16-21

There are some kinds of jobs, some kinds of positions, some kinds of roles in life where the person who has that job, that position, that role is required to get up and say something—to talk—sometimes to talk a lot and to talk often. (I know this to be the case.)

And, counter to what many people might think, the ‘trick’ to being able to do this is not primarily in having an out-going personality, or a beautiful speaking voice, or a ‘way with words’, or a lot of confidence, or a need for attention. The real ‘trick’ is to have something worth saying!

The main thing for me, at this moment, today, is to have a thought, an idea, a concept, an understanding, a message—something!—that I really want you to hear; that I want you to listen to and think about.

That is always most important. And all of you know that. And even the least confident among you as ‘public speakers’ know very well that if you are genuinely concerned about your child’s welfare—he or she is in danger!—you will get the message across to them; if you love someone very much you will find the way of communicating that; if you have experienced something so exciting it cannot even really be described you will still make the effort, and find a way! You just have to! Or if you hurt so bad that the words can only barely make it out between the tears and the sniffles you will, all the same, stumble your way through it so that you can get the message across.

Because the other person needs to know what you know, needs to hear what you have experienced, what you are thinking, what you are feeling….

Peter (we just read from the second letter of Peter) used the majority of his rather long adult life talking to people about Jesus. (He was actually first ‘trained’ as a fisherman.)

Paul (who was educated and trained more for a talking/teaching role) did the same, though he only personally saw Jesus once that we know of. But others had also told him. He became a missionary—he got out and travelled the world to tell people about Jesus. Occasionally he was told to stop telling people, but he did so anyway. They threw him in jail so he told the prisoners. Then he told the jailer.

Eunice, a mum, and Lois, a grandma, didn’t travel the world, as far as we know. But they both told their children about Jesus, one of whom, later grew up to travel and tell others. (That was Timothy.)

Jesus’ mother, Mary, told lots of people, including Luke, who wrote it all down so that even people he didn’t meet personally could know.

One way or another people that we know of from the New Testament and many, many whom we know nothing about, told others (as John puts it): “That which …we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim….”

Peter says, in our reading today, that we have been “eyewitnesses of his majesty”. He refers specifically to the amazing event which we heard about in the Gospel reading—an amazing experience of the glory of God, the shining, dazzling white of Jesus, the voice from the Father in heaven, the whole of Israel’s history and hope brought together in the person of Jesus—we have seen his majesty, his glory!

And then Jesus told them not to tell anyone until after the resurrection. This revelation, this experience, this must-be-told event pointed towards Jesus’ death and resurrection. And when they had seen that, when they had witnessed those events, when they had seen the glory and majesty of God in Jesus’ commitment to the cross and in the Father’s faithful fulfilment of his promises, and in the resurrection to life—when they had seen and known and witnessed and experienced the glory of the grace of God….!

The importance in the telling is in what you have to tell.

Early in Jesus’ public ministry Andrew saw Jesus and recognized the connection with God’s promises in the Old Testament. He went and told Simon so that Simon could come and see, too. Philip found Nathanael and invited him to come see. They didn’t have it all worked out yet. But they shared what they could already see and understand and appreciate. And then they kept learning together….

The women at the tomb on Easter morning ran, terrified, to tell the others. Officially women could not be trusted, that is, their testimony had no legal status. But no one could stop them telling what they had seen.

Paul, on one occasion—seeing that the people of Athens were interested in religion but trying to cover all the possibilities—Paul sympathised. He knew what it was like to be certain, and then not so certain, and then be confronted and challenged, and then have to change your mind. And he said, “I’ve been where you’re at. I know what you’re working through. Let me tell you where my journey has led me.” And he shared not only what he knew of Jesus, but also what he knew of the sometimes difficult process of learning, believing, and trusting.

Many of those who experienced Jesus’ compassion and power—in his healing, or in his teaching, or in his welcoming of sinners—went and found other sick, ignorant suffering sinners and said, “Come see what we have seen.” You can just imagine the woman caught in adultery to whom Jesus said, “I don’t condemn you. Go and sin no more.” Imagine what she could tell her friends, her family, when they fell into deepest despair because of some sin! Or Zacchaeus, the tax-collector, whose story we listened to a couple of months ago. Absolute outcast and suddenly loved, accepted, valued, affirmed by Jesus. What do you think he could say to his children, or his friends, or just to other people he knew who were ‘on the outer’?: “Let me tell you about what God’s grace has meant for me….”

I found about 20 places in the New Testament where these words are used: “Let me tell you what I’ve heard, what I’ve known, what I’ve experienced.”

I’ve encouraged many of you a hundred times or more, using one kind of terminology or another—to witness, or to minister, or to proclaim, or to evangelize, or to share the Good News. And if you ever think that I am wanting you to go out and tell people that we have a really nice church community, or an exciting set of programs, or friendly people, or gifted leaders, forget it. Those things may be true. But they are not at the heart of what we are on about. People can get a friendly community of nice and busy people at lots of places. You have to have something more worth telling than that!

What the Spirit directs you to tell others is what you have seen and heard and learned of the grace of God; how you have seen his glory in knowing his forgiveness; how you have seen his power in the way he identifies with your weaknesses, and receives you all the same; how you have known his faithfulness in the Gospel which just keeps on saying over and over and over again, “I forgive you all of your sins.”

I, personally, your pastor, have seen those very words take away physical pain; I’ve seen those words turn crying and despair into deep-felt joy; I’ve seen those words draw the uncertain and marginalised into a sense of acceptance and belonging. I have seen the simple message of God’s unconditional love enable and empower a person shaking to keep going—maybe even still shaking!—but to keep going—knowing that the journey and the burden are shared by God…and by me in my experience of God’s grace…and by you who know that it is all about knowing God’s grace…and even by a great community of famous sinner-saints and martyrs and not-so-famous sinner-saints who have seen and heard and known the grace of God in Jesus throughout history.

In our worship this morning there are ten or more times where God’s Word specifically says to you: You are mine. I forgive you. I am with you. My blessing is with you. On top of that are the Bible readings, the prayers, the songs, that speak the reality of God’s grace. You have heard the Word of God. God’s absolution. God’s promise. God’s blessing. You have held the Word in your own hands and on your own lips.

You have something worth telling. The manner, the timing, the place, the person—there is not one of you here who will not in the coming days have the opportunity to speak God’s love into another person’s life.

The ‘trick’ in the telling is in having something worth saying. You do! God’s grace is worth saying.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you always. Amen.