To this we are witnesses.

Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.[1]

My favorite poet has a way of encapsulating a sentiment, or a lesson, or a day, or a life, into something you can hold in your mind, repeat to yourself over and over, like a mantra, until you have learned something yourself, something about yourself, something to help you be more of who you are supposed to be.

To me, she has the power over words that the Biblical authors had – the capacity to evoke a remembered or future glimpse of God: a brief revelation of what is truly good, actually meaningful, and even helpful for taking on the pain we encounter each day and moving forward into the next.

The Gospel writer Luke tells the story of Easter to us. The disciples are amazed at the appearance of Jesus, the love and grace of God, embodied once more before their eyes. Their understanding is transformed. They themselves are changed. They have learned a new lesson, something about themselves, something to help them be more of who they are supposed to be.

And in Acts, Luke’s sequel to the Gospel, he tells what the disciples did with this new understanding of the world. They live with the same boldness of spirit that their teacher had shown them. But they are not under any illusion that they are invincible. They know their own limitation, their own part in the world of things, and they know the goodness of God, who sent his servant Jesus, the Author of Life, the Holy and Righteous One, to teach and transform them. They know they are under the watch of One who is of ultimate concern to us all.

And they proclaim what they are to any who would care to hear, “To this we are witnesses.”

To all of this:

To the world which God made in love,

to the strength of God to endure all our rejection,

to the gentleness of God to return to us kindness for hatred, faithfulness for rage.

To this we are witnesses.

God is steadfast against our refusal.

God reconciles and forgives us when we harm ourselves and others.

God upholds the covenants God has made, even when our love fails, and we turn away.

God reminds us of the dignity and sacred worth inherent in each of us, even when we do not see it ourselves.

God sends us into the world to heal it and tell about God’s love.

God has transformed each one of us.

Do our lives show it?

[1] Selection from “Sometimes” in Red Bird by Mary Oliver (Beacon Press, Boston: 2008).