This Wednesday’s lectionary passage from the book of Hebrews reads:
“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…”
I’ve been thinking about those verses in this week that began with Palm Sunday and a major (and unanimous!) vote to become a Redevelopment congregation…a week that’ll have us break bread and wash feet with Jesus at the Last Supper and sit at the foot of the cross the next day…a week that’ll end with Mary’s exclamation, “I have seen the Lord!”
Here are a few glimpses of the great cloud of witnesses that I see:
- I see Henrietta Deters, who was 104 years old when she died last week, and still full of grace. I imagine her greeting newcomers to Grace for years and delight in her being welcomed to the heavenly banquet.
- I see Barbara Artuso and Jim Barry, who had the wonderful chutzpah to become Grace’s newest members in the midst of a time of discernment and change. With them, I see a couple of folks who have been visiting Grace, who tuned in online to see how life is unfolding in this congregation they are coming to love.
- I see Karen Hazlaris, Ken Pauley, Bob Lewis, Debbie Pusateri, Jeff Smolik, who in the six months that I have been with you have struggled, prayed, read, prayed, learned, prayed, taught, prayed, preached, prayed -- and through all of that led you to this place that is grounded in the old, old story and leads to something new.
- I see the faces of people in the congregation over the past 6 months as you’ve first heard about the possibility of embarking on this intentional path of redevelopment. Most of you were initially puzzled by the idea; some were angry; some were delighted. I remember your faces softening as you heard more about it, and even see some eyes light up with thoughts of the excitement of new beginnings.
- I see everyone who was in the sanctuary last Sunday, and those who joined on Zoom, who courageously joined together in the decision to trust and discover ways to love some new people in God’s name.
- And I see people who I didn’t know, including some from long ago who you didn’t know either -- people who learned to love God at Grace, people who served others in Christ’s name as part of this congregation – people who helped make the congregation who it is today. I imagine their spirit blessing you. They are part of a cloud of witnesses that brings needed refreshment and rebirth.
The Lord be with you.
Grace and peace,