November 5, 2023 SERMON:
I have another favorite scripture for All Saint’s Sunday:
It is Hebrews12:1-2!
Pastor Jane Courtright
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.
Actually, if you look at the chapter right before this,
You’ll read a whole list of these witnesses:
Abel, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Rahab, David,
Samuel and on and on.
And if you go elsewhere in our Bible
and delve into the stories of these people,
you’ll discover that these are people much like you and me:
people constantly fluctuating between faith and unfaith!
These are just a part of our ‘great cloud of witnesses’
……’all the saints!’
Just think of it!
They are our Sunday School heroes & heroines!
But let’s not forget: They are a motley crew which includes
murderers, fugitives, liars, swindlers and thieves!
They’re no different than the rest of us:
They run hot and cold, brave and scared, sure and unsure.
In fact, if the canon
(or choice of which books and people are included in the Bible)
was still ongoing, YOUR NAME OR MY NAME
might be included in this list of witnesses or saints!
A name I love for this list is: ‘The endless line of Splendor!’
My point is that this ‘Great Cloud of Witnesses’ is NOT
like the Baseball Hall of Fame or any Hall of Fame!
It isn’t just for superstars & record breakers.
It’s not an exclusive club open only to St. Francis, St. Augustine,
Mother Theresa, Albert Scwietzer
or any other named or honored saint.
It’s for all of us of faith,
including mediocre, average, everyday people
who do mediocre, average, everyday things.
People who struggle with their faith
just like little kids struggle to tie their shoes
& people with arthritis struggle to open jars!
It’s really kind of a strange phrase, isn’t it….
“surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.”
Reminds me of a character from the Peanuts comics:
He always had his cloud AROUND him. A cloud of dust!
Pigpen said it could be the dust of ancient civilizations!
It was like he traveled in his own personal dust storm.
But in some ways, that’s not a bad image:
a cloud of witnesses that go with us wherever we go.
Today, we sit surrounded by this great cloud of witnesses-
finding ourselves a part of the communion of saints.
Some alive and sitting by us,
others sewn into the fabric of this building or church family,
others folded into our hearts.
These are not perfect people,
not four star saints of heavenly all stars,
but everyday people like ourselves,
All of us just trying to live the best way we can-
trying to live in God’s way……
trying to do a little something for others along our way.
So, as we share communion together today,
let’s draw strength from one another,
let’s inspire each other.
Then, let’s go from here
And be inspired to do the work of God,
FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE! Amen.