Thought for the week by Alicia Holmes
I was driving along the A14 and witnessed a car crash. In fact, no-one was seriously hurt, but I needed to wait for the police to arrive and then I was interviewed by them. All I had to do was to say what I had seen and heard. The policeman wrote down my account of what I had experienced. In the end the case didn’t go to court, but of course the role of a witness is crucial in a court of law.
Just before Jesus ascended to heaven he told his followers that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them. He went on to say that they would be His witnesses in Jerusalem, all Judea (the countryside surrounding the city) and in Samaria (the area where the despised Samaritans lived) and from there to the ends of the earth.
In Roman times when there was a new Emperor heralds would be sent out to the far corners of the Empire to announce the news. In the same way Jesus was telling his followers that they needed to tell people that there was a heavenly King who could give them a new start by giving them pardon, peace and purpose and who could reign in their lives if they chose to follow him. As witnesses Jesus asked his followers then and now to tell others what they have seen and heard of Him – it isn’t complicated but it can sometimes be scary.
What a wonderful mercy then that Jesus promised that his followers would be given power when the Holy Spirit came upon them so they could carry out his instructions. What sort of power did Jesus mean? It isn’t the sort of power which can be seen physically. It is more like the power of electricity which cannot be seen but is crucial when we want to turn on a light on or charge a mobile phone.
As we know Jesus’ friends had been terrified that when he was arrested, they might be captured too. They were so frightened that they all ran away and Peter denied knowing his best friend not once but three times. But after the Holy Spirit came upon them it was these same followers who were to go on to stand up in court bravely declaring that Jesus had died and risen again. These same followers went on to risk their lives again and again by defying the authorities and preaching openly about the wonderful love of God shown to people through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.
That same power is available to us today. All we have to do is to ask God to give us his power through the Holy Spirit so we are prepared to live out our faith and take the risks he wants us to take. We can ask God to help us to be faithful witnesses telling those we come across about what we have experienced: what we have seen and heard of Jesus in our lives.
During the next week we are all invited to take part in Thy Kingdom Come, an international prayer initiative bringing the needs of the world to God. As well as praying about the pandemic we are invited to pray specifically for five people who we would like to experience God’s love for themselves. I wonder who God might be calling you to pray for during this time. We can ask God for opportunities to love and serve them and also to tell them about what we have experienced of His love in our own lives. Most of us will probably remember someone who told us about God’s love or invited us along to church in the past. Many people are more open to hearing about God during times of crisis. Is there anyone who might appreciate an offer of a prayer or an invitation to Zoom with us on a Sunday morning? It may be scary, but don’t forget we can ask God to help us to be His witnesses with the powerful ‘electricity’ of His Holy Spirit. Over this week let’s pray big prayers and ask God to give us all the power we need to be His witnesses or heralds bringing the good news of His Kingdom to our friends, our colleagues and our families.
May God give us more than we can ever think or ask,
May God use us far beyond the boundary of our task,
May God lead us further than our vision yet can see,
May God mould us day by day more perfectly,
May God bless us in the way he sees is best, May God bless us, so that every life we touch is blessed. In Jesus’ name, Amen