Speaking out of experience (05-05-22)
Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught. (Luke 1. 1 – 4)
This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true. Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.
(John 21. 24 – 25)
As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
(Peter and John in Acts 4. 20)
Many of us took the opportunity to meet up with family over Easter, catching up on lost time as we slowly move out of Covid. We got together with David’s brother and sister and their spouses up in Skipton on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales with plenty of good walks together. One of the great things about walking is that you can walk and talk in a relaxed manner, changing walking partners from time to time. Conversation ebbs and flows and even silences are companionable rather than awkward when walking. It was a lovely four days with plenty of catching up to be done. We are all Christians and so it is also natural for the conversation to include experiences related to our faith. In fact, one of our walks took us to ‘Calvary’, in a wood above Ilkley. Here a series of stone ‘Stations of the Cross’ stood hidden away in the woodland ready to take the unsuspecting walker through the events of Good Friday. David’s brother and his wife had been before, so they wanted us to experience this hidden gem for ourselves.
Over the past two years of Covid, many of us have been reaching out to those around us with much-needed practical help, ‘walking’ together with them through the various restrictions and challenges. However, research shows that most Christians struggle to put helpful words to their helpful actions. Despite people asking big questions during the pandemic, many of us still find it difficult to talk openly to others about our faith.
Peter and John had first-hand experience, having spent so much time with Jesus. It inspired them to such an extent, that they could not help speaking about what they had seen and heard to the rapidly expanding early church. John wrote many of these experiences down in his Gospel, although at the same time he acknowledges that there are many other things which he didn’t have room for.
By contrast, Luke spent time meticulously interviewing eye-witnesses to produce his Gospel account of the birth, life and ministry of Jesus. He then followed this up by writing the book of Acts, in which he shares the experiences of the Early Church of which he himself was a part.
In the same way, every follower of Jesus today has their own story to tell. We might not have a dramatic testimony like those we tend to read about in books or hear at conferences, but we all have something. This week I can tell people about our family walk to Calvary and perhaps show them my photos of the Stations of the Cross. It’s an obvious, easy, genuine conversation starter. There is an authenticity that shines through when we speak out of our own life experience, so why not say a quick prayer for God’s help and give it a go!
Go forth and tell! O Church of God, awake! God’s saving news to all the nations take: proclaim Christ Jesus, Saviour, Lord and King, that all the world his worthy praise may sing. Amen.
Go forth and tell! O Church of God, awake! by James E. Seddon