You will be my witnesses

John the Baptist was not the light but a witness to testify to the light… so how can we tell that we are his witnesses and that the light of Christ shines through us and in us

Answers?

1) we will have asked for it,

2) we rely on the promise that he will come into our lives

3) the light will enable us to see things that we never saw before when we lived in the dark and were blind. The spirit of the Lord will be upon us showing us what He wants us to see.

4) We will want to walk in the way of Jesus and make a clear path for others so that they will find the way:-

Jesus stood up in the temple and read a reading from Isaiah 61….he told the congregation afterwards….Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing. Not only was he making claims about who he was and what he was about, he was also bringing in a new age, when his followers would do as he did.

Even in our gospel reading today, Jesus is being asked the same question…Who are you….What do you say about yourself?

This is a question we ask ourselves today.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,

Because the Lord has anointed me….(oil) …applies to each one of us too

1) He has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed…(bible)…(send prearranged dominoes in motion) we should want to tell people about Jesus and pass on good news about him (part 1 last week.)

2) To bind up the broken hearted…(elastoplast& broken heart)) How deep is our love for others? Do we know them well enough to know if their hearts are breaking?

3) To proclaim liberty to the captives…(handcuffs) how much support do we give to the downtrodden, those crippled by third world debt, those being tortured in various parts of the world do we really care?

4) and release to the prisoners…(keys and blindfold) how much support and care for those who might just as well be in prison because of the lifestyles they lead? They are blind to the light, who will help them to see?.

5) To comfort all who mourn…(handkerchief) we're called to a ministry ALONGSIDE others, not to tower above them. Prisoners - we are vulnerable

These next few verses from Isaiah 61, reading on, are verses of healing for whoever needs to be lifted up from the depths of despair, echoing those lovely words from our epistle today, which tells us to be thankful in every circumstance. They are words not only for those we minister to, but also words of encouragement to us:-

For we are those who CELEBRATE

1)The spirit of the Lord has also provided for those who mourn in Zion- to give them a garland instead of ashes, (garland of stars) isn't it so much better to be known for celebrating our God rather than putting ash over our heads and grieving like miserable sinners. Jesus has paid the price for our sins we ARE forgiven.

We are those who give God PRAISE

2) The oil of gladness instead of mourning, and the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit,(oil and cloak) like some badge of office, or like th old cloaks worn by the prophets is the command to PRAISE and be GLAD, the JOY of the Lord is our strength…who would think it to look at some of our churches today?

We have been planted by God to pass on what is right and good

3) They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display his glory. (garden trowel) Once an oak is planted, it gives out fruit-acorns each year, our descendants are promised a blessing. Perhaps something of our own spirituality passes on to them too, I'm sure it does.

We have been selected to build up God's church and his kingdom on earth

4) They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.(brick) There is much repair work to be done in our churches today, calling for commitment, sacrificial giving and sacrifice of time, but whatever we give in rebuilding God's church must be because we want to do it, and not because we feel we ought, and not at cost to our families so that they suffer the loss of us, or there will be even more rebuilding to do.

This is who we are in God… we belong to Him. He is our Father and we are his children; we belong to his family all making straight the way of God, like John did, and that's something to celebrate. (cracker, streamers, hats, party poppers etc.,)