Our 83-year-old chapel here at Central has been transformed into a miniature stadium complete with colorful banners and cheering crowds, athletes and trophies, lockers and shoes and ice chests full of Gatorade. We’re kicking off our summer “Running the Race” series tonight and, as I’ve come to expect at this place, we’re going all out.

The hope is to use these nine summer Wednesdays to foster some strong intergenerational relationships. We’re not having Bible classes. No kids programs or youth groups. We’re not doing anything according to age group. We’re all eating together at 6:00, worshiping together at 7:00, and then playing together at 7:30.

Together. That’s the key word and the critical idea. Together.

We’re using as our theme passage Hebrews 12:1-3 where Scripture directly ties us disciples of Jesus today who are currently running the race to all the faith heroes in Hebrews 11 who ran the race before us. “Therefore,” it says, “since WE are surrounded by this great cloud of witnesses, let US throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let US run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

By running the race together, Hebrews is not saying all of us in the Central Church of Christ. It’s not “we” or “us”  together in the United States. This huge host of faithful runners to which we belong is not limited by the boundaries of time and space, much less the man-made borders of nations and denominations. Hebrews 12:1 ties us together with Hebrews 11.

So, we run the race together with all the saints of all time. We run the race with Abraham and Ernie, with Moses and Lachelle. We run with Mollie and Johnny and Callie and with Noah and Jacob and Joseph. And these great witnesses who went before us are like spectators; they’re watching us as we run the race and they’re cheering us on. That’s part of the picture. But it’s more than that. They are witnesses in that they bear a testimony. Their lives are a witness to God’s faithfulness, to God’s great provision and his eternal promises. Their lives prove what we preach.

It’s not so much they’re looking at us to cheer us on as we’re looking to them for encouragment and inspiration.

We’re part of a heritage, a legacy; we’re living and running in a story that’s a whole lot bigger than most of us realize.

So, while we’re eating and singing together tonight, while we’re competing in three-legged sack races and tossing water balloons with people much younger and much older than us, we’ll be reminded that we’re always running this race together.