“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)
What does it mean to have a great cloud of witnesses surround us? The writer of the letter to the Hebrews speaks to those who have come before, who have lived and thrived in adversarial conditions as they sought to embody the good news of Jesus Christ. And while the celebration and recognition, mourning and grief that comes with the departure of this life is a vital part of the human experience, I challenge you this week to ask, Who’s in your cloud right now?
You might want to ask Gary and Sonny. They had a huge cloud of witnesses from their pasts, present and future together on Sunday night. Just about every chair had a friend, neighbor, churchgoer or relation watching, witnessing and celebrating their wedding (at last). You might want to ask any of our children or youth, who week in and week out have you marvelous folks engaging with them, asking questions, celebrating awesome answers during childrens’ sermons, and helping with youth group and children’s church. You may want to ask your friends in Bible Study or in Sunday School. You should ask the folks you serve with at NDSM or Austin Street. The cloud of people that surrounds us as we perfect the faith together grant us perseverance, hope, solidarity, and a community of support.
This Sunday, as we celebrate All Saints’ Day, remember those who have come before and give thanks. We stand on the shoulders of giants like Gene Dungan and Emma Lee McCracken. We work together in faith, hope and love so that we can celebrate big moments and work hard for the next big fracture of this world that lets the Reign of God seep more fully in. And we acknowledge the scars and the heartbreak that stays with us until death is finally no more, and all is reconciled in Jesus Christ. And we do this together. And that is holy, and wholly awesome.
I look forward to seeing you Sunday, and shalom y’all,