Yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better so that they would not, apart from us, be made perfect. 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.
Sunday night was a viewing followed by a Monday morning funeral. The family put together a ton of pictures as well as a digital photo display on a screen. Many people came in to visit with the family, to pay their respects and to mourn.
I was looking at the pictures, as well as the visitors, and the passage from Hebrews struck me. We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, not only those mentioned in Hebrews, but also those who have gone before us. I was looking at pictures of people who I have conducted funerals for, and shaking hands with people who attended those funerals.
I also saw pictures of weddings and births – another wonderful part of the cycle of life. They too are witnesses of God’s gifts. Every time a child is born, we rejoice. Every time a person is baptized, we rejoice. A wedding brings joy. And so does a death. While we mourn the loss we also celebrate the joy of our lives with our loved one. And we celebrate the victory of eternal life through Jesus.
In this latest round of illnesses and funerals, I am again reminded of that great cloud of witnesses and their example of faith.