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,[a] and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of[b] 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.
3 Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners,[c] so that you may not grow weary or lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3, NRSV)
Yesterday was a hard day. This past weekend a tragedy struck the community of Benbrook, TX with the death of two young girls that left this world all too soon and last night at Arlington Heights UMC we opened our doors to the family to give them a memorial service for the two young girls.
In the midst of the memorial service I thought of this scripture that I had been trying to write a post for all day, but for some reason never got around to it. Barbara Brown Taylor one of my favorite authors once this following quote in an interview Flycatcher Journal.
Thin places are transparent places or moments, set apart by the quality of the sunlight in them, or the shadows, or the silence, or the sounds—see how many variations there are? What they have in common is their luminosity, the way they light an opening between this world and another—I’d say “between this world and the next,” but that makes it sound like one world has to end before the next one can begin, and a thin place doesn’t work like that. It works to make you more aware of the thin veil between apparent reality and deeper reality. It works to pull aside the veil for just a moment, so you can see through.
The author of Hebrews is illustrating for us a thin place in Hebrews 12. A place where we are cognizant of more than we can physically see. I have felt this type of place two times in my life, when my Papaw (my dad’s father) and when my grandmother (mom’s mother) passed away and I was at their bedside in their last moments. Words can’t express these moments, but there is a tremendous feeling of community in these moments. It’s when God blurs the lines between Heaven and Earth that we truly see who God is, when Jesus was born and when He died on the cross.
Just like my previous experiences, last night I felt a tremendous community among us, a priesthood of all believers, a cloud of witnesses that were and are with us in all times of our lives, but sometimes I guess its more thick, or more apparent than others. These moments are precious gifts to us from God himself, saying that we are not alone and we are never alone. And we never will be.
It’s Holy Week and Easter is coming, but Easter is not here yet and its in these moments that we need to realize more and more that to get to Easter you have to go through the Cross. There is no other way. Why does it have to be this way? No, it’s not because God wants us to feel pain before we feel love, it’s because God wants us to know that even though there is pain, anguish, and death, that God has the last word.
Not even death will have the last word.
As it turns out as Frederick Buechner says, “Resurrection means that the worst thing is never the last thing.”
So, wherever you are, whatever you are doing know that God is bigger than what you are facing, and God and God alone will have the last word, and that word is Love. Because that is the whole point. Jesus came and died not for himself, but that we, through Him would have life and have it to the fullest. Not just exist, but to live life fully now and forever.
So let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, 2 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.