Reflection from Pastor Hoffman
“You will be my witnesses to the ends of the earth!” That’s what Jesus tells his disciples before his ascension – before the resurrected Jesus returns to sit at the right hand of God in heaven – in this Sunday’s reading from Acts (1:6-14). You will be the ones to carry on my ministry – you will be the ones who teach the world about all that I’ve said and done. You will share God’s love in word and deed by loving this broken and beautiful world – and all the people who are part of it.
Being Jesus’ witnesses – carrying on his ministry – to the ends of the earth? That sounds like a tall order under any circumstances, but it feels especially impossible when the world I inhabit feels increasingly smaller. Day after day, I see the same five faces as we share the same four walls. As grateful as I am to be sharing my days with these particular faces, the world beyond my household feels increasingly distant.
God did not create us to live in isolation. Jesus’ whole ministry was about reaching out to others, bridging divides, joining people together. And it can feel impossible to share in that ministry – to bear witness to all that Jesus taught and did – when we feel so disconnected.
Thankfully, Jesus did not leave us with our marching orders and disappear entirely. This Sunday, we get to listen in as Jesus prays for us: “Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one” (John 17:1-11). Jesus longs for us to experience the connection of being joined to God and to one another. He prays for us…then he sends the Holy Spirit to make it so.
We may feel far apart. We may feel disconnected. But we are not alone. We are – as we claim every Sunday when we begin the Lord’s Prayer – “gathered into one by the Holy Spirit.”
This week – and always – I am praying for you and with you that, despite physical distance, we might feel the presence of one another and experience the unity we share in Christ. Together, by the power of the Spirit, we are witnesses who share the good news of God’s love to the ends of the earth.
~ Pastor H.
P.S. It seems to me that one of the ways we serve as witnesses is to pray for one another as Jesus prayed for us – and to tell each other we are doing so! Pastor Amy and I have started this practice by sending a postcard to the five households that we pray for each week in worship. I invite you to adopt a practice of your own. Consider sending a note to someone for whom you’ve prayed or participate in the Seeds of Hope Appeal by sending notes to “spread HOPE” (see the full announcement in the Care Section!!). We might not be able to travel to the ends of the earth, but the message of God’s love certainly can!!