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. Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart. - Hebrews 12:1-3
When you were a little kid, did you ever lay down in the backyard and just stare at the clouds? Sometimes you would see fun things that the clouds would appear to be shaped like. Other times you would notice the different kinds of clouds. Huge white fluffy clouds or almost see-through and wispy? And while clouds can look different, they also have different ways in which they help us understand the weather or climate. They each have different value to us. Some bring shade and some bring rain, some are lofty and seem above the heavens and others are right next to us, in the form of fog.
In this 12th chapter of Hebrews, the text talks about a great cloud of witnesses. This word, “cloud,” is the only time in the entire Bible, both Old and New Testament, in which the word is used metaphorically - meaning a mass of people. The writer of Hebrews just spent the whole chapter previous to this one highlighting people who were and still are these great cloud of witnesses - faithful people who sometimes gave their entire lives for God and their fellow human. The writer mentions some of the heavyweights of the Bible - Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses. The writer even mentions women, Rehab and Sarah, as part of the great early faith leaders.
And just like these early faith leaders, I think many folks at Raleigh Court Presbyterian are part of my cloud of witnesses. Those that have brought shade and nourished waters when I needed it the most. Some people might seem lofty and some are just as down to earth as can be. But we are all part of this family of God. This crazy, unique, special family where we each have an incredible opportunity to contribute to this cloud of witnesses to the next generation and beyond.
Who is part of your cloud of witnesses? Maybe they don’t even realize it. Share it with them this Lenten season.