Witnessing for Christ
Coming to church when the Word of God is preached and the Lord’s Supper administered, instead of sleeping or working or playing—like most of your neighbors—says with Peter, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). That’s a witness in itself. It clearest to those to whom God has given you a special opportunity and responsibility to be a witness: your family (whether of blood or of faith) and your closest neighbors and friends, who know where you are and what you do.
To put it bluntly the other way: if you are not faithful in attending your Lord when He comes, why should anyone else listen to you when you speak about Him? Why should they think they should be where you often are not?
Of course, simply being marked present doesn’t exhaust your witness, your testimony, in the Divine Service. What witness does it give to your fellow Christians or to visitors if you appear to be aiming merely for attendance? Do you listen attentively to the readings from God’s Word and the sermon and help your children learn to do the same? Do you treat the words coming from the pastor as words coming from God’s servant and meant by God for your salvation? When the liturgy bids you respond with “Amen”—“Yes, yes it shall be so” as Luther puts it (Small Catechism, Conclusion to the Lord’s Prayer)—do you say it with vigor and certainty? Or might that word at the end of your prayers just as well be a shrugged “whatever”?
Likewise, how do you respond when you are invited to sing with “angels and archangels and all the company of heaven,” the joyful song of the heavenly throne room, “Holy, Holy, Holy” (see LSB p. 161)? Joined to the angels’ song is the song at Jerusalem’s yearning gates, “Hosanna,” where Christ Himself comes to you in the flesh by humble means to enliven soul and heart and body with the foretaste of the feast to come. Thus we sing, preparing to eat the holiest and most precious food on earth: the body and blood of the Son of God, given into death to save you from all sin, death and the power of the devil…Maybe you’ve never thought that way about the Sanctus, sung before the Words of Institution in the Lord’s Supper. Do these words have your attention? Your fullness of voice and heart? Do you plumb these inspired words, meaningfully combined, like a gold mine for the treasures packed into them?
From “5 Things You Can Do to Witness for Christ” by John Wollenburg Sias, Concordia, 2013, p. 12.