“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” –Hebrews 12:1 (NIV)
Our church celebrated their 100th anniversary yesterday. As I listened to the bishop’s sermon about the founding of the church in 1917, its roots, and it’s challenges over the years, I couldn’t help but feel pride, awe, and hope. It was started at the beginning of the first World War, endured many other wars, was dealt a changing landscape as a freeway was built right beside it, and has had to learn to survive becoming more and more urban as sprawl has caused many changes in ethnicity and makeup of the congregation and the neighborhood it serves.
I was reminded firsthand, as the congregation celebrated with birthday cake and a toast, that the church can truly persevere, even under the most difficult of circumstances. It is the people who persevere, by the grace of the Holy Spirit.
As I reflect on my own faith journey, the text above came to mind. Yesterday as a full church sang hymn after hymn, the voices joyously raising praises until you couldn’t hear yourself sing, I felt as if I was in a great cloud of witnesses. People over the decades who lived and died with Christ witnessed to the transcending power of Jesus and the church triumphant. This was the song of a persevering church. A hopeful church. A joyful church. A giving church. A grace-filled church.
Despite challenges ahead, we are reminded in life (and in church), to throw off anything that holds us down, get rid of sin, and settle down to running the race the Lord has marked out for us. The Spirit runs beside us, cheering us on, helping us fulfill the life we were born to live. Won’t you join me in the race today?
Prayer–“Gracious God, you give me the perseverance to run the race you have laid out for me. Help me to rely on you and your strength when this race called life gets tough and I want to give up. Thank you for your Holy Spirit that sprints right alongside me. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”