Ice-covered cranberries on the viburnum bush bear witness to the coming winter. Both freezing rain and the majesty of God’s creation. As Christians, we are called to give testimony to this, our faith, to witness.
Witness is the work we have been given to do as the church scattered. We have opportunities to speak of Jesus with the people in our everyday lives who are our friends, co-workers, neighbors, family members, etc.
Outreach is the work we do as the church gathered. It is our collective effort through ministries, services, events, and other activities as the church through which we invite and include others into Word and Sacrament ministry.
Witness & Outreach are distinct, but they work together so people will know of Jesus and be gathered into His Church through us.
When our church closed in March 2020 due to COVID, our pastor set forth these guidelines:
“We live by faith, in the love God has for us through His son, and not in fear.”
“Our faith is our witness; we take care of neighbors and don’t endanger them.”
“Our witness expresses faithfulness; we obey authorities as long as they do not ask us to disobey God.”
19th century English poet Christina Rossetti wrote the poem “A Christmas Carol,” better known as “In the Bleak Midwinter,” as witness to her faith. Gustav Holst composed the musical setting. Being a witness to Christ’s birth in the bleak midwinter is a conundrum because He was born in the spring.
Witness from today’s social media
Here’s an excerpt from a post making the rounds on Facebook:
…mangers are animal feeding troughs but in ancient Israel they were made of stone – not what you would see in a modern-day nativity scene. Not comfortable, but great for protection. That’s why those who were experts in this matter, the priests, would put their newborn lambs in them for protection. But not just any lamb, the unblemished perfect lambs that were used in the sacrifice for sins. And Bethlehem, where Jesus was born, was famous for their unblemished lambs used for the sacrifice. These lambs had to be perfect so they would wrap them tightly in cloth and lie them in the manger to keep them safe. This is exactly why the only time mangers are mentioned in Jesus’ birth story it is being told to shepherds. In Luke 2 it says “This will be a sign for you, you will find a baby wrapped in cloth and lying in a manger.” The shepherds would have understood this powerful parallel!
Spring is lambing season, but it is in winter that we celebrate. In our bleak midwinters of life, we witness to our faith, reach out to others, and worship the perfect Lamb, the light of the world. Like cranberry viburnum encased in ice, the light we witness to is what Christmas is all about.
Link up with Five Minute Friday: https://fiveminutefriday.com/2022/12/15/fmf-writing-prompt-link-up-witness/
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