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Sunday, January 11, 2015

Today’s Reading | John 1:29–34

The next day he saw Jesus coming towards him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.” And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.” (NRSV)

Testimony is a big deal in the Gospel of John. The word testified is used twice in these six verses, and when I look in a concordance, I see that there are twenty times that many instances of some form of the word throughout the whole Gospel.

For most of us, the word testimony carries legal associations and images of courtrooms. Whenever I have had to give legal testimony, or even descriptions to police officers, I have realized that I am really bad at testifying. Sensory details (Was the car black or blue? What shape was the person’s face? How far down the block did it happen?) get fuzzy and jumbled in my head. Add to that the nervousness of knowing that it really matters if I’m right or wrong, and you have a pretty wishy-washy witness.

My deficits in this area fuel my admiration for John. He is lucid and sure (everybody is in this Gospel; it’s one of the things that drives me crazy about it). He pays attention to what he’s seeing and hearing. This includes not just the physical acts, but also the sorting out of what is expected from what is actually happening. He has to tune out what other people are saying long enough to reflect on what he is experiencing. And then he says it—confidently and clearly and convincingly.

Testimony is what we are called to in our lives of faith. Since our lives don’t have the rigid structure of courtroom procedure, how those testimonies sound will vary widely. But if we are attending and discerning well, our testimonies, too, will have the sincerity and transparency of John’s.

O God who calls each to testify to a unique experience of you, help me to pay attention to the details of your grace and communicate about them authentically. I ask this in your Son’s name. Amen.

Written by Susan Quaintance, Program Coordinator,
Center for Life and Learning

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