Wednesday, 12 April 2006

A Wee Puff of Witnesses, Laying Weights Aside and Running with Endurance: a Wednesday in Holy Week Sermon with Reference to Hebrews 12.1-3

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses...

I can see no great cloud of witnesses. I only see you few and I’m glad of that. I do enjoy being here with you. What are we if not a great cloud? A wee puff of witnesses.

Does it mean the great cloud does not exist because I can’t see them? Of course not. I’ve not seen anyone literally raised from the dead (yet), but I believe that it happened and still does.

We may be a wee puff, but we are not alone and when added to all the other puffs throughout history and all over the planet. We are part of a very great cloud. So…

...let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely...

What weights must we lay aside? Two things come to mind this morning: first, our emotional vulnerability. The struggle with depression and poor self-esteem is epidemic in our age. The feelings are real, but they are not trustworthy. With the help of Jesus, bit by bit, tear by tear, stumbling prayer by stumbling prayer, reclamation-of-a-piece-of-the-joy-of-our-salvation by reclamation-of-a-piece-of-the-joy-of-our-salvation, we must work to lay them aside.

Second: we labour under a huge weight of prosperity and comfort which presses us down and away from spiritual heights where the winds of God blow. We must, bit by bit, one-percentage-point-towards-the-tithe by one-percentage-point-towards-the-tithe, offering by offering, blessing by blessing, secret-sacrificial-act-of-kindness by secret-sacrificial-act-of-kindness, work to lay that weight aside.

And the sin which clings so closely? We drench it liberally with the anti-static spray of confession, repentance and forgiveness.

...and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith...

How do we run with endurance?

We train. The Holy Lent interval Training program of self-examination, repentance, prayer, fasting, self-denial and reading and meditation on God’s Holy Word is ideal all year round.

We pace ourselves: work, spiritual disciplines, rest and play.
Do we need help with our faith? We all do. Where do we find it? We look to Jesus who will perfect it—bit by bit as we lay aside the things that hinder, and run with endurance and look to Him…

...who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God...

And we…

...Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that we may not grow weary or fainthearted.