Scripture: Hebrews 11: 32-12: 2
Key verses: (12:1-2) “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.”
Reflection: Today is all Saint’s Day on the calendar. This coming Sunday we will be remembering our loved ones who have died in the past year – the gift of their lives and ministry among us. It is also a time when we remember all believers from every time and place that have gone before us. Their witness is meant to be an encouragement to us when we struggle with life’s challenges. The first part of our passage today lifts up the “heroes” of our faith. Those men (there were women, too!) who through faith were able to do remarkable things for God. This included the martyrs – those who died grisly deaths for the sake of their faith. This kind of faith is defined earlier in the book of Hebrews as: “. . . the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (11: 1) When I read about torture, mocking, flogging, chains and imprisonment, stoning, being sawn in two, killed by the sword and persecuted, I am reminded how comfortable I am – how comfortable most of us are in a country where there is religious freedom. The example of our biblical forebears is remarkable and humbling. When I think of the example of their unwavering faith, I am reminded that I have no excuse for not sharing the hope God has placed in me. I hope that you feel the same way. Let us give thanks for all those who have been examples to us of how to live lives of love, hope, faith and integrity. May we continue to show compassion for our neighbors and love God with all our heart as we stumble along following Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.
Prayer: Loving God, we give thanks for all the saints of the church who have been examples of faith to us. Let us remember them with joy in our hearts. Be with us as we seek to live out our faith. May we be an example to each other and the world of what it means to run life’s race with perseverance as we follow Jesus Christ. In his name we pray. Amen.
Author: Deborah Conner
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].