We combined the great exhortation in Hebrews 10 to “spur one another on toward love and good deeds” with the “great cloud of witnesses” imagery in Hebrews 12 in a warm display of affection and encouragement at the beginning of last night’s assembly. What a night it turned out to be!
We asked everyone in our church family who was baptized 50 years ago or longer to wait out in the foyer. We wouldn’t let them come into the worship center. While the rest of us gathered inside, our older brothers and sisters were outfitted with makeshift “runners tags,” big numbers to wear on their chests declaring how many years they’ve each been running the race. Meanwhile, I prepped those of us waiting on the inside for what would come next.
We had just preached through Hebrews 11, the Faith Hall of Fame, earlier that morning. My observation is that we are surrounded by our own cloud of witnesses right here at Legacy. There are faithful disciples right here in our church family who have endured, persevered, fought the good fight, and run the race marked out for us. We have wonderful examples of faith and courage and sacrifice and service right here in the building. And as they run the race before us, as they show us the way, as they wrap up their races by finishing strong and handing the baton to those of us who are coming behind, let’s really cheer them on. They deserve our encouragement. They deserve our affection. They deserve our love and respect. And they deserve to know how much we appreciate them.
At that point, Norman Williams opened up the back doors and here they came! Right down the long, long center aisle. 60 year Christians. 70 year disciples. A couple of 80+ year followers of Christ. And we let them have it! A standing ovation. Clapping. Cheering. Whistling. Stomping. High fives. Hugs. Pats on the back. Salutes. Yelling. Hollering. Smiling. Laughing. Nearly 70 of our dearest, sweetest brothers and sisters entering our place of worship to such a roaring welcome. 300 more of us cheering them on.
As a Christian community, we’re called to lives of mutual encouragement. Christians have a high calling to care for one another spiritually and morally. Our attention should be riveted to always looking out for ways to encourage others within the community of faith.
I pray we were able to return some of that strength and encouragement last night.