While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. “This,” he said, “is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. – Acts 1: 4-9 NRSV
When I carry forward what I wrote about earlier on what “witness” means in various contexts into this text, something jumps out at me: the phrase that I used to hear when I was much younger, “Let’s go out witnessing!” seems misplaced…
Being a witness isn’t an activity I set out to do or accomplish. I am a witness by virtue of experiencing God’s Spirit and power in my life. Jesus didn’t say “y’all go out witnessing to the world!” He said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (emphasis is mine)
The text above mentions receiving power in the Holy Spirit twice before then telling the disciples that they will be witnesses. Certainly this doesn’t mean that NOW God will start to work in their lives, NOW God will start to demonstrate His power……God’s been working in their lives for quite awhile! The Holy Spirit living in Love and Power through and from them into the world around them heightens their awareness of what they have experienced. The Spirit gives them the loving insight into what that might mean to those around them, and the wisdom to recognize the dire need for God’s Grace in each and every one about them. They each learn how to express their experience, both in love and in restorative justice, that allows their witness to show, not themselves, but our loving and graceful God to that person.
Being a witness isn’t something we train up to do. We are witnesses. There are things we can learn from our community, from spiritual friends and others that can lead us to be more sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s work, and perhaps, more wisdom about being the witness that God has placed us in this life to be, right now, with this person……but the central experience is your experience with God in your life.
Prayerfully consider your rich relationship with God, and present that as an open book through which the Spirit breathes grace for others.