Acts 1: 6-11
6 So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?’ 7 He replied, ‘It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ 9 When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 While he was going and they were gazing up towards heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. 11 They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up towards heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.’
In today’s reading, the would-be-apostles are standing around, jaws hanging open, looking intently at where Jesus was, not where he is calling them to go. It takes a nudge from ‘two men dressed in white’ to prompt them to get going.
As the church we have the same calling to be witnesses - to be people who can testify to what we have experienced. Our Gospel message is not to be carefully guarded and hoarded - it is to be freely shared. We are urged to bear witness. But instead of looking outward we often find ourselves like those in the early church, standing around with our mouths hanging open - looking at where God was not where God is going to be…
The message to the early church is the same as the message to the contemporary church today - it’s time to get moving, to witness to what we have seen - what we know to be true. This doesn’t mean that we have to aggressively lecture others about our faith, but rather that we become better at responding to the needs of the world with our stories.
Witnessing can be a bit of a loaded phrase - conjuring up this idea of an adversarial prosecution on behalf of God. Some of us may be called in certain situations to articulate a high falutin case but we are not all called to be lawyers. We are all called to be witnesses. A witness is someone who responds, who simply and truthfully testifies to what they know - allowing others to judge.
Help us to find the words,
that witness to your love and grace.
Give us the language,
straightforwardly and honestly
speak of where we have come from
and where we are going.