For many, the word “testimony,” in the religious sense, has to do with a particular, narrow understanding of what salvation looks like and how God moves and acts, to which we no longer respond.
And like so many things, the danger is that we will simply throw the whole notion of testimony out with all the other things we don’t believe in anymore, instead of doing the harder but ultimately more gratifying work of stripping it down to its hard substance, separating it from those painful or embarrassing memories, and rediscovering its great power.
Testimony is powerful. Speaking one’s truth as one sees it to find purpose, meaning, and beauty in the arc of one’s life is one of the most powerful, inspiring, and hopeful experiences there is.
Some years ago the congregation I serve entered into a series of conversations about a subject that is very personal and quickly gets us to the heart of who we are as a church, as families, as friends, or simply as people committed to life in community.
As our leadership team began to lay out a process by which we could have such a personal conversation as a congregation, it became clear that testimony was among the most potent resources our tradition has at its disposal for such things.
So at the heart of our conversation was a night of testimonies. People put their stories, and really their lives on the line, trusting that they would be received with care and compassion. And friends, my testimony to you is that it was among the holiest evenings of my life.
It seems to me that an honest working definition of the church is a place and people in whom that level of trust and testimony can happen.
When was the last time you shared your testimony of how you have felt God move in your life?
God, speak through me this day. Amen.