So then, with endurance, let’s also run the race that is laid out in front of us, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us. Let’s throw off any extra baggage, get rid of the sin that trips us up, 2 and fix our eyes on Jesus, faith’s pioneer and perfecter. He endured the cross, ignoring the shame, for the sake of the joy that was laid out in front of him, and sat down at the right side of God’s throne.
At one of the churches I went to growing up, they filled a hallway with these black and white photos of members who had passed. The wall was filled with the “Cloud of Witnesses” nurturing the faith of our church. I rarely recognized a face, many passed before I was there, but I was often overwhelmed by the thought that these were people dedicated to the church, who served on committees and began ministries I now volunteer for and maybe even sat in the same pew that I sat in. My membership at that church, the service for the community, the legacy that the church holds in that town now something that both the people in these pictures and I had in common.
In this letter of Paul, he’s challenging us to move forward toward the call and work that God has before us. That work can be long and tedious, exhausting and challenging, but we do not do this work alone. Putting aside the baggage and distractions that keep us from moving forward can seem impossible, but we have others to help us. Yes, we may be blessed with people in our lives to help us with this: friends, family, colleagues, church members, but we can also find strength from those who are not physically with us.
I myself had never met my great-grandfather, he died before my parents were even born, but he always stands out to me in my cloud of witnesses. The stories I’ve heard about who he was and what being a pastor meant to him have always resonated with me. I have a few of his sermons, and I’ve been inspired from his perspective on scripture. His work lives on and he continues to help me run the race.
by Rachel Callender
For Pondering & Prayer
Have you ever thought about who your cloud of witnesses might be? These are people who have passed on into eternity with God who somehow touch your life today. They can be people you knew or people you never knew. Try listing at least five people who you have in your cloud of witnesses.
Prayer: Holy Lord, You have created a world so interconnected. None are alone. We are linked in a web that continues beyond death. May that help us to run the great race ahead of us. Amen.