In today’s sermon, Pastor Dottie talks about who our great “cloud of witnesses” are. It might be a loved family member or respected mentor, a close friend or romantic partner. She relates her parents’ great talents and abilities for teaching and listening with heart. Our “cloud of witnesses” might include great figures in history such as Sister Theresa Chavez, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, John Wesley, Mary Magdalene and more. Whoever our cloud of witnesses, the great power they have is to strengthen and bolster us. Everywhere we go in life we’re going to have hard times and be unsure about our decisions. Our cloud of witnesses makes us feel love and supported through these times and remind us we are not alone.
The first Christian witnesses were the angels singing, the shepherds seeing Baby Jesus, and they took it upon themselves to tell everyone. In 2012 we added a word to our vows as Methodists: “witness”. God needs our witness and it is important that we witness to God, ourselves and others our love for God and his love for us.
Prelude: “Preludio ‘Sine Nomine’” by Herbert Howells
Postlude: “All Saints” by David Thorne
Scripture: Hebrews 12:1-2
So then let’s also run the race that is laid out in front of us, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us. Let’s throw off any extra baggage, get rid of the sin that trips us up, 2 and fix our eyes on Jesus, faith’s pioneer and perfecter. He endured the cross, ignoring the shame, for the sake of the joy that was laid out in front of him, and sat down at the right side of God’s throne.
44 Jesus said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the Law from Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures. 46 He said to them, “This is what is written: the Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and a change of heart and life for the forgiveness of sins must be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 Look, I’m sending to you what my Father promised, but you are to stay in the city until you have been furnished with heavenly power.”
50 He led them out as far as Bethany, where he lifted his hands and blessed them. 51 As he blessed them, he left them and was taken up to heaven. 52 They worshipped him and returned to Jerusalem overwhelmed with joy. 53 And they were continuously in the temple praising God.