Friday, April 20, 2012

Can I Get a Witness?

Our texts for this third Sunday in Eastertide (yes, Easter is not just a single day in our Christian year, but a whole season celebrated over 50 days!) are Acts 3:12-19 (readings from Acts replace our Old Testament readings in this season), 1 John 3:1-7, and Luke 24:36-48. Take the time to read them through here.

If I had to pick a theme word in the post-resurrection stories of Jesus and the church that grew out of those who knew the risen Christ, it would be the word that we are focusing on for the season of Eastertide: "witnesses." It pops up everywhere, in our readings for this season and beyond, in the last words of Jesus and the first words of the disciples, including in our two main readings for today (in bold):

You are witnesses of these things. (Luke 24:48)

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. (Acts 2:32)

You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. (Acts 3:16)

We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him. (Acts 5:32)

"We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem...He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead." (Acts 10:39, 41)

You will be his witness to all people of what you have seen and heard. (Acts 22:15)

The theme of witness was heavy in the content of Jesus' few recorded post-resurrection words, as well as in the speech and life of the earliest Christians. But what does it mean, to be a witness?
What associations do we have with this word today? I would encourage you to think on this question, and to reflect on the pictures at right that reflect some different meanings and interpretations of the word "witness" in advance of Sunday. Reflecting in advance may help you out come sermon time as we discuss this apparently crucial (if sometimes uncomfortable) aspect of Christian discipleship together.

1 comment:

Jeremy said...

Huh. Well, the pictures are pretty varied, as you intended (tricky, tricky).

Courtroom: I think about how subjective being a witness to any event is, especially to a crime. Not that they are wrong, per se, but sometimes can be made to connect the (wrong) dots or be swayed by naturally occuring bias. See here

King James: (Clever Pastor Alert!) I only have watched a few games with Labron, and I hardly felt it was history. IT was a ton of hype. I also remember reading about and watching clips from his ESPN special, "The Decision," which was widely assessed by most people as a self-serving trainwreck (if there can be such a thing). At the same time, I remember watch a lot of Bulls games in the 1990s, and I thought Jordan was a ball-hog a good bit of the time. Was I witnessing (and harshly critiquing) history?

Jehovah's Witnesses, maybe? A group that is both respected for their faith-in-action and disliked for the fact it means interaction/intrusion into our lives. How dare they, eh? Makes me think of how freaked out I'd get as a Young Person in The Church that I get asked to Witness For The Lord In Front Of People. Ack. Oddly enough, I felt perfectly fine witnessing through my everyday behavior with my friends. But I certainly didn't talk to them directly about their persional relationship with Jesus!
Even now, how do you broach such a thing with friends and family, much less strangers? It's so...invasive and begs/pries the answers to so many potentially painful questions. And yet, it can make such a difference in how we go about our lives and our overall outlook.