Give thanks to the LORD and call upon his Name;
Make known his deeds among the peoples.
Sing to him, sing praises to him,
And speak of all his marvelous works.
Glory in his holy Name;
Let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.
Search for the LORD and his strength;
Continually seek his face. (Psalm 105:1-4)
I really could reread these verses two more time and call it a day, because really what more is there to say? That is the core of it all. But, you know, I’m up here, you guys are sitting there, so I will say a bit more.
I want to use these verses to talk about how we are all called, I want to also talk about how I’m called. We are all called to witness. What is a witness? Is it like witnessing a crime? You just have to be present to see it? Yes and No. The first two verses in our reading from psalm give us the perfect definition. Give thanks to the Lord and call upon God’s name, make known God’s deeds among the peoples… Make known God’s deeds among the people.
I’m a missionary, point blank. I say that boldly and unafraid of judgment, because I know what most of you know. Missionaries have a colonial history, hey, they still have colonial practices to this day. Show me the problem and I can fix it mentality. Let me quickly tell you why I find trouble in approaching all mission work like that. Firstly, I’m not that handy, so I can’t fix a bunch of stuff. Secondly, I believe that missionaries are not always called do, but are always called to be witnesses, just like everyone else. And the role of a missionary is a bridge builder, a window opener. I stand here in All saints Episcopal church and am able to tell you stories of how I worked in an elementary school, and lived in a monastery in a little place in the eastern part of South Africa called Grahamstown.
I can tell you of the beautiful and intelligent children I worked with. Or the strong and compassionate adults that I met. What is the job of a witness? To make known God’s deeds among the peoples, all people. Ive seen the face of God, I am seeing here the face of God. Because in the same way that I am able to bring you stories from South Africa, I was able to take your stories over there. I was able to tell my South African friends about the people who live in Carmel, in Monterey, Salinas in California. My friends, my family.
An effective witness is able to build these connections with people across communities. It doesn’t have to be between communities on opposite sides of the world.
I can tell you stories of homeless peoples who set up a tent village in Chinatown in Salinas. Or multimillionaires who go to the country club to play golf on a Saturday afternoon at Pebble Beach. But my point is an effective witness is a person who can go any, and everywhere and no matter where, make known gods deeds among the people. An effective witness can come home and tell what God is up to over there, or over here, or down there. An effective witness is someone who at all times and in all places can find the divine and witness to that glory.
So I hope that after the service you will allow me to tell you some stories from my last year in South Africa. I’m going back there in three weeks, so the stories don’t have to stop. Come Listen to my witness, and share yours with me.
Sermon by Maurice Dyer, Missioner sent partially by All Saints’, Carmel
Follow his many journeys on his Blog: http://mauricedyer.blogspot.com/