Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hebrews 12.1-4 - All Saints Day

This coming Sunday we will be focusing on Hebrews 12.1-4.  This passage gives us that famous verse that says: "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."  In the previous chapter we see numerous examples of the saints of God that have gone before us.  These saints that exemplified the faith of God.  And now we are surrounded by these witnesses to the faith ------ therefore we are to lay aside the lethargy, the laziness, and the sin ------ and run the race that is before us.  We are being cheered on by those who have gone before us ------ saying that we can do this.  And we can do this because Christ has made a way where there seemed to be no way.  Continuing on to verse 3 it says: "Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart."  When we think of what Jesus endured on our behalf ----- this should enliven us to persevere in the race that is laid before us.  To not turn back to our sinful ways ----- but instead to persevere until the very end. 

Traditionally on this Sunday, we recognize those saints who have gone before us.  This Sunday we are going  to continue to do that, but also give everyone an opportunity to share about a saint of God that impacted their lives.  I would like to invite you to prayerfully consider sharing during our Sunday morning All Saints Day services.  You might want to read something that has impacted you, share a song, display an art piece, or tell a story.  Please consider doing that as we share the lives of those saints of God who have impacted our lives. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Hebrews 11.1-19

This coming Sunday we will be focusing on Hebrews 11.1-19.  This has one of the most famous passages from Hebrews in it.  It is verse 1: "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."  This sets up the rest of the 18 verses.  Over and over again we hear the words "by faith".  We see "by faith" in vv 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 11, 17.  And in the midst of this pericope we then hear of a longing for a heavenly city.  In v16 it says: "But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one."  The question that comes to me from this verse is whether we desire that better country? that heavenly one? 

In Burlap to Cashmere's song titled "The Other Country" they sing:
Draw near the lamb's awaiting
Where the river runs thru the sky's align
From that painting of a ship
We have all been chosen
To the painter's creation
In his dream design
I can feel it over the line
I see the other country
I see the other side
Do not be afraid of this earthly city
Do not be afraid when the pharaoh's nigh 

In the midst of the stressful and divisive political season let us remember that we do not need to be afraid of the pharaohs that are trying to divide us and strike fear into us.  Our hope is in something greater than the republican party or the democratic party.  Our hope is found in something that is bigger than the political juggernaut that is trying to destroy everything in its path.  Instead, we as the church see something different.  We see with eyes of faith another city ----- a heavenly city ------ a better country.  For the slain lamb of God has called us to his side.  And uses people like us to make things new.