By Stander or Witness?”
Sunday morning 9:45 Sunday School
for Ages 3 to103
Sunday Morning Service at 11:00pm
Child Care is provided for little ones in the nursery during service , they are more than welcome to remain in worship service as well.
A few years ago, someone asked the comedian, Flip Wilson, about his church affiliation. Flip replied, “I’m a Jehovah’s Bystander. They asked me to be a Jehovah’s Witness, but I didn’t want to get that involved.”
As we begin this Advent season, preparing ourselves for the celebration of Christmas, and once again revisit the familiar Christmas Story, we just can’t help but be reminded how every character in it seems to have a part to play in the spreading of the Good News about Jesus’ birth. From Zachariah and Elizabeth to Mary and Joseph, from John the Baptist to the Wise Men, from the shepherds to even the angels — it seems all were witnesses and no bystanders.
With the increasing commercialization of Christmas: when radio stations begin playing Christmas music earlier and earlier every year and stores begin their Christmas decorations reaching into October, the profound meaning and message of the original Christmas Story are gradually being replaced by trite Christmas jingoes and corny tales of Santa and reindeer. Many countries, such as China, Japan and even Jordan, not normally known for their Christian heritage, are now fully onboard in the celebration of Christmas, hoping to boost their economies through the sales of Christmas merchandise.
Increasingly, as Christians, we find ourselves trying to blend in with the crowd in our observation of Christmas, not to rock the boat too much lest we ruin the “Christmas spirit” for others. We are afraid to be witnesses for Christ!
Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating that we all should become grinches or go out and lecture people about the real meaning of Christmas. What I’m suggesting is that we all should lead by example in being a true Christian community that naturally attracts others to want to find out what the Christmas message is all about. In other words, actively becoming a living witness for the Good News.
Let me illustrate: A well-known actor one day returned to visit the little country church in which he had grown up. The people were so excited about him being there, and he had such a great voice, that they asked him to read the 23rd Psalm: “The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.”
As he read, a hush fell over the congregation. People were entranced by his elocution, by his presence. When he finished, an old woman stood up in the back of the church. And she recited the same psalm. She didn’t have the correct diction of the actor, nor did she have the presence, or the vocal talent. Yet, as she spoke those familiar words, people in the congregation found themselves brought to tears.
After the service, the actor asked the pastor what had happened. He knew he had used all the tools available to him, and that his reading had made an impact on the people. But this old woman, with her creaky voice and her stooped presence, brought the people to tears! The pastor looked at the actor and said, “My friend, you know the words. She knows the Shepherd.” The actor was a bystander, the woman a witness!
In this season of Advent, as we prepare to celebrate the coming of our Christ in our lives, it is indeed appropriate for us to ask ourselves a similar question: Are we witnesses for Jesus Christ, or are we just bystanders? Have we taken the Gospel message into our hearts in such a way that it has changed our lives? Or is our participation in the Good News limited to a few comments here, a few dollars there, a few good ideas, a few Christmas carols, an hour or two on Sunday mornings?
Bystander or witness? Which are you?
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Bill Teng
HELPING PEOPLE FIND THEIR WAY BACK TO GOD
We’ve seen the transformation hundreds of times – people who came to us full of doubt and uncertainty become secure in the knowledge of their rightful place in God’s great kingdom. The change may start slowly – in a Bible Study class or choir participation, perhaps – but once it begins, it picks up speed. The good works, shared experiences, time spent in prayer – all bring us closer to our highest calling.
Take the first step toward personal renewal – join us for services this weekend!