John 1:6-8

New Revised Standard Version

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.


Witnesses to The Light

Reflection by Rev. Pam Brokaw, Dec. 12, 2020

The Gospel of John opens with a declarative statement about the identity of John the Baptist. He is a witness.

The Gospel tells us: There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.”[1]

John is a courageous and passionate witness who shakes things up. He points to the coming of Jesus Christ and reminds us that we, too, are called to be witnesses to the light of Christ. We do this in our own ways.

Some witnesses are like John, fierce and fiery. Some quietly model the healing ways of Christ. Others are tenacious witnesses to Christ’s just ways as they peacefully advocate for suffering people. We faithfully continue in other ways to be the church during harsh times. All endeavor to point to the light of Christ. There is not just one way.

Sometimes, it seems like it’s impossible to be a witness. When we are suffering and down the light may seem so dim and even almost impossible to comprehend. I’ve been there grieving and wondering how to put one foot in front of the other let alone point to light I cannot see or see oh so dimly but need so desperately. This is another reason we point to the light of Christ…we do this for others just as people did it for me and perhaps you as well.

We can get caught up in how we witness to the point that we don’t at all. And people need us to witness to the light. This is not just about us…you or me…it’s about others who need witnesses to the light who are unable to do so for themselves. When we joyfully point to the light of Christ it doesn’t matter where we do so.

The pandemic has darkened so much but Christ’s light burns all the while. Some can’t bring themselves to gather safely outdoors, for example, in outdoor worship. That’s not worship, some say. I just can’t do that. But another way to think about outdoor worship or on-line worship or programs designed to help people that require masks and other safety procedures, is that these are ways to point to the light.

We say, we will not be daunted, just as John the Baptist was not daunted. We say, we will find ways to show the light of Christ! Look, the Lamb of God, we will say, as we worship in our cars and living rooms and celebrate the lighting of the outdoor Christmas tree with our battery-operated candles this season.

This Advent Season, I invite you to join me as witnesses to the light. Here are several ways: We will gather for outdoor drive-in worship at Rochester United Methodist Church Sunday, Dec. 13 at 11 a.m. and Dec. 20 at 11 a.m. We will worship on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24 at 6 p.m.

Yes, we will be outside and not in our beloved Sanctuaries this year, but we will be a witness to ourselves, to our neighbors and to our communities, that nothing keeps us from pointing to the light of Christ. May you find other ways to witness in his name every day. Notice how it makes you feel and how life changing witness is.

[1] Gospel of John 1: 6-8, The Bible, New Standard Revised Version