A friend of mine who is not very proficient with a computer showed up in my office recently. He has a dashcam for his vehicle, and about an hour earlier, he had witnessed an accident, which was recorded by the camera. He wanted to be able to submit the video to the police, which he figured would be more eloquent than his verbal testimony in any case. I was able to download the file and upload it onto a data key for him.
The word "witness" reminded me of the words of Jesus to those who had gathered around Him on the mountain at His ascension: "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 NIV) These are His final words as Luke gives them, which are different than those recorded by Matthew, but no less meaningful. Matthew's report carries the assurance of Jesus' presence with all of His people until He returns in glory, while Luke's account concerns the fact that there is work to do, and we need to be going about doing it!
To be a witness is to testify to what one has seen and what one knows to be true; it can also be about what one believes to be true, based on other experiences that one has had. Those disciples were witnesses to the resurrection, having stood in the presence of Christ Himself. Following His death and return to life, they went and proclaimed that to the world.
We are not able to say that we are witnesses to that event, in that we were all born almost two thousand years after the fact, but we can witness to the saving and grace-filled power of Christ that is alive and at work within us and around us today! We testify to the promises of love that Jesus sealed for us in the cross and in the empty tomb, and how we have felt His peace within us when we have searched for it and prayed for it. We testify to how we have seen His love change others when they opened themselves to His embrace. We are witnesses to both good and evil in our world every day, and we need to keep our eyes open to see what God is doing in even the worst of circumstances!
Christmas is coming. It's a time to witness to love and grace coming into the world. It's a time to witness about light shining in darkness. It's a time to witness about compassion and companionship, and about people being more important than possessions. We can't witness about Jesus being born on December 25th (which is a date from tradition, not the text itself!), but what matters is that we testify to our belief that He was born! For in being born, in being "Emmanuel" — God with us — all the difference in the world has been made!
Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, though we have not seen You in the flesh, we have felt You in our hearts and seen Your movement in our lives through the actions of Your Holy Spirit. When we are called to testify about You, may our lips and our lives glorify You, and our hands and feet show Your strength and Your purpose alive within us. Amen.
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Listen while you read: "Infant Holy Infant Lowly" (Lyrics)