Tuesday, November 1, 2011

"I am a Witness"

Today is “All Saints Day” among Christians all around the globe.  It’s a chance to celebrate the witness of lives who encourage us in our own faith journeys.
             “Witness” is such a powerful word and concept that Nike picked up for their “swoosh campaign.  Lebron James became a “star” in one of the Nike commercials  The ad campaign’s use of religious language in interesting and, I’m sure, intentional.  It builds an origin myth (“Before he was even out of high school, LeBron James was already a household name, and by the time he was taken number 1 overall in the NBA Draft, the expectations for greatness were inevitable …. The eighteen year-old was built like a hardened veteran in his prime and his skill-set and athleticism had arguably never been seen in a player of his stature”) The ad develops a heroic quest narrative (“As we follow LeBron’s ongoing quest for an NBA ring”) It appropriates religious authority (“the King James legend grows daily”). And it rallies disciples (“Since he first came into our awareness, we have all been “witnesses”). * Watch this:

Do you know Jesus well enough to get this excited? 
Do WE know Jesus well enough to offer this kind of rousing endorsement?
Is what we're witnessing to worth saying, "watch this?"
It’s easy to settle for a watered down witness, to say what we think we ought to say rather than proclaim our experience of God’s goodness.  Sometimes a bumper sticker’s all you’ve got to go by. WWJD is not a bad thought exercise.  But it’s not very satisfying soul food. Apparently, Steve Jobs was leery of the WWJD effect.                                                             When Apple Inc. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook took the microphone at a memorial tribute to Steve Jobs at the company’s campus last week, he shared a piece of advice Jobs gave him before his death on Oct. 5.  “Among his last advice he had for me, and for all of you, was to never ask what he would do. ‘Just do what’s right,’” Cook said. Jobs wanted Apple to avoid the trap that Walt Disney Co. fell into after the death of its iconic             founder.                                                                                                                                                    The article goes on:  [Jeffrey] Sonnenfeld said. “He was constantly breaking glass and moving forward. Walt Disney was surrounded by a cadre of creative people who were every bit the equal of Jobs’s lieutenants, but they became haunted by the question, ‘What would Walt do?’ … Jobs told Isaacson that one of his great hopes was that Apple would remain as innovative and committed to product excellence after his death.
I think that Jesus wanted that too:  innovation in the face of challenges, excellance in serving God. Otherwise, what was “I go so that you may do greater things” about? If I had to figure that out just in my own head or with my own hands, I think I’d be in trouble.  But the lives of the excellance seeking saints who have gone before, and the community of innovative saints all around get me excited. I see the best of what people are doing in the name of Jesus, and pray “God help me to be one too.”

A Prayer for All Saints Day by Safiyah Fosua
    We give you thanks, O God, for all the saints who ever worshiped you
    Whether in brush arbors or cathedrals,
    We give you thanks, O God, for hands lifted in praise: 
   Manicured hands and hands stained with grease or soil,
   Strong hands and those gnarled with age
   Holy hands
   Used as wave offerings across the land.
   We thank you, God, for hardworking saints; 
Whether hard-hatted                                     
   or steel-booted, 
Head ragged or aproned,
   Blue-collared or three-piece-suited 
   They left their mark on the earth for you, for us, for our children to come.
   Thank you, God, for the tremendous sacrifices made by those who have gone before us.
   Bless the memories of your saints, God.                                                                         
   May we learn how to walk wisely 
   from their examples of faith, dedication, worship, and love.***

*Nike as quotations from www.sneakernews.com.
**Peter Burrows, Published: October 25, Washington Post


  1. I came in from working on the wood pile this beautiful fall day, and read this message. I'm excited! - george smith