From the moderator

Recently we have read the reports from the United States of the trial of Derek Chauvin who was convicted of the murder of George Floyd. However, no-one on the jury was actually present when George Floyd died. And the killing had taken place almost a year before. In fact, the Jury was specially selected to ensure that not only were they not present, but they were willing to keep a completely open mind in the case, putting aside the worldwide media reports and demonstrations that had occurred throughout the year. Moreover, neither the judge nor the lawyers acting for the prosecution or the defence were present at the incident.

 

So how did the jury come to the firm conviction that George Floyd was unlawfully killed by Derek Chauvin. Of course as in every court case they relied purely on the testimony of witnesses. Some of those witnesses had the presence of mind to record on their phones the events as they unfolded, whilst both sides produced “experts” to interpret the events. However, at the end of the day it was the eyewitness accounts that were the key to the whole trial, and the verdict delivered. They were questioned closely by the lawyers for both sides. What did you see? What did you hear? What did you experience on that day? Is there anything else that you noticed that might help?

 

Witnesses are very important, and their role is very clear. They must not make up any evidence. They are not to embroider the facts. They must simply state to the best of their knowledge what happened. From the unique position of being present on the day. On their testimony others not present will make very important decisions, in some cases life changing decisions.

We are now between Easter and Pentecost. That time when the risen Jesus sent His Holy Spirit to guide the early church. Present on that occasion were the members of the early church and a host of bystanders. During the six weeks prior to that, Paul says that literally hundreds of people had seen, touched and spoken to the one who they knew had been cruelly killed on a cross a little while before.

 

These events were the most important things that had ever happened to the world. For if Jesus was risen from the dead, death had been conquered, and all his promises of eternal life were true. Those who believed in him could be assured that this life was not all that there was, and that God loved them. But who would pass on this good news. Well, in that time between Easter and Pentecost Jesus said to the people who were gathered.
“You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."


On your testimony, lives will be changed, those who are oppressed will be freed, those who are anxious about the future will gain peace. I am not asking you to make up some fanciful story, or to embroider the facts. All I ask is that you clearly tell the world what you saw and heard, what you touched and noticed. I am not even asking you to make people believe, only present the facts to them and let them judge for themselves.

 

We have the drafts of the testimonies of some of those witnesses in the bible. It makes great reading, the book of witnesses: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, James and so on. It is better than any novel, and has the advantage of being eyewitness accounts that can change lives and bring the assurance of eternal life. You and I are members of the jury. How we decide on the basis of the evidence presented is quite literally a matter of our own life and death. And when we have decided, we become witnesses, of why and how we made that decision, and on our testimony the lives of others depend. As with a court case, It’s quite a responsibility.

May God bless you and fill you with the Spirit of Jesus, as we draw near to Pentecost
Yours in His service


David