Easter 1 texts at www.textweek.com
Acts 10:34-43 Psalm 118:1-2 14-24 1 Cor. 15:19-26 John 20:1-18
We are witnesses to all that he did… Acts 10:39
As pastors and preachers prepare for Easter Sunday, most of them will (rightfully!) spend their time in the garden, at the tomb, wondering at how an impossible stone has been set aside, gazing with the disciples into an empty cavern, listening for the voice of their Teacher. This is the Gospel, after all; this is the very Good News! Christ is risen indeed! This is the story we all need to hear, over and over. This is the story we tell our children, the story we sing at the tops of our voices, the story that brings us to tears. This is the story that compels us, that calls us, and it’s this story that we hope will compel, and call, everyone who shows up in their Easter best on this Sunday every spring.
But this story doesn’t end when another Easter day, with its baskets and bunnies and brunches, comes and goes. At resurrection, the people of God begin a new story, a new season: a season of life! We heard Jesus’ message of peace, saw his healing work, wept at his unjust death, rejoiced at his return! We are an Easter people, witnesses to all he did.
We use the word “witness” in different ways: a witness is one who observes, and a witness is one who reports what she has seen.
In the secular world, we may witness a crime or a traffic accident, and we may get called in to court to be a witness for or against one who has been accused. Eyewitness accounts give perspective to the tragedies and dramas that fill the headlines. Witnesses pay attention, remember details, honestly report what they saw so people can be held responsible.
I had a friend who had been a dancer in her younger life–when I knew her, she was still a dancer, though her multiple sclerosis made such movement increasingly impossible. On a church women’s retreat, she talked about liturgical movement, dancing, joy; she encouraged us all to participate in prayer as a physical expression. And when she observed our (my) reticence, our (my) aversion to “being watched,” she talked instead about being a witness. What if “being watched” is really “being witnessed”? What if we are truly his witnesses: observing what Christ has done, and then reporting back–in sermon, in song, in poem, in paint, in dance–what we have seen? What if we allow our response to Christ, our testimony, to be witnessed by others?
When we walk with the risen Christ, in this new season of Easter life, we are not merely watching him—we are not paparazzi lurking in the bushes, or objective observers whose testimony may sway a jury, or critical watchers who will judge a performance. We follow him as witnesses: paying attention, remembering details, and honestly responding to what we see, so that the right people—that is, all people—can come to know peace, forgiveness, joy.
First published 3/21/16 on www.bwim.info/blog