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AfterWords | Bearing Witness (July 9, 2023)

AfterWords is a series of community-contributed reflections intended to further the conversations that begin during Parish sermons.

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A 3-Minute Read
by Deonna Bettis

This week we were asked to contemplate how we as individuals within, and cohesively as, the Church bear witness to God’s power.

The first thoughts that came to mind were concerning the striking disparity between the power of God and the power of humanity, and how difficult it can be to bear witness to power without appropriating and desiring some of that same power for ourselves. One possible response to this could be in seeking to identify all the ways we see God “working” that align with our perceptions of power and draw attention to those. A problem with this approach is that it tends to center my vision and self as the standard by which I am measuring and recognizing the power of an almighty God. In the pages of scripture we see that God has chosen in His wisdom to use us in demonstrating His existence in a variety of ways, this while intimately knowing our frame and remembering that we are dusty image bearers.

A line from one of the worship songs Sunday morning stood out to me: “It’s a new horizon and we’re set on You”—and I think therein lies a key to thinking about the eternal significance as well as the transitory reality of being the Church while waiting for Jesus’ return. We are invited by the power and presence of the Spirit to look up at a new horizon, for our vision to be fixed on the person of Jesus, to trust that the Father is the author of this (and all) chapter(s) of history, and it is the great I AM calling for the creation of the church “to be.” The Spirit’s presence as a comfort and intercessor makes it possible to lift our eyes and be hopeful—not fearful—of the new horizons and places we are being called to. The reality of Jesus’ sacrificial love evidenced in His death and the incomprehensible power evidenced in His resurrection give a sure foundation and point on Whom to “set” our vision. The eternal faithful mercy of our Father speaks to the confidence we can have in our trust, even amidst the brokenness of the Church.

Bearing witness to God’s power challenges us to do some specific things:
1) Be willing to have our gaze lifted off of ourselves, taking in new horizons to which the Spirit is calling us.
2) Choose to fix our gaze on Jesus.
3) Trust in the powerful vision and purpose of our Father that supersedes the very real boundaries and obstacles in our Jerusalems, Judeas, Samarias, and the very ends of the earth.

In so doing, we are naturally humbled. We are prepared to respond, even as Isaiah did centuries before Pentecost after having his sins forgiven and being touched with fire from heaven: “Here am I. Send me!”

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