“Since we are surrounded by such a 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.” ~Hebrews 12:1

We are “Running the Race” together at GCR on Wednesday nights, five straight weeks of intentional intergenerational mixing up of our ages and groups for worship, games, Christian practices, and desserts. This past Wednesday we attempted a demonstration of affection and encouragement for the older runners among us.

We asked everyone in our church family who was baptized 50 years ago or longer to wait 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 bibs,” big marathon 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.

The first verses of Hebrews 12 are serving as a theme verse for these five Wednesdays and we’re observing that we have our own cloud of witnesses right here at GCR. There are faithful disciples of Christ right here in our own church family who have endured, persevered, fought the good fight, and run the race marked out for us. We have wonderful models of faith and courage, 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, Jackie opened up the doors at the back of the Worship Center and here they came! Right down the 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. The “Chariots of Fire” theme song blaring. High fives. Hugs. Pats on the back. Spotlights dancing. Yelling and hollering. Confetti and streamers and noisemakers. Lots of smiling and laughing. These older saints entered our place of worship to a roaring welcome.






It took a little longer than I thought it might. But if it had lasted an hour, I’m convinced we would have kept clapping and whistling. And everybody in the room would have kept smiling.

After everyone finally got seated, we stood up to worship our God together, I talked a little about the blessings of being surrounded by these older saints, and then we surrounded them in prayer. We crowded around those who are running ahead of us and showing us the way, we knelt before them and put our arms around them, literally, and lifted them up to the Lord in thanksgiving and blessing.

Then we played “Human Bingo,” a game J.E. and Jadyn devised to intentionally get our different generations mixing together. Beautiful.

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’m always strengthened when I consider those who’ve been faithfully running this marathon longer than me. And so much better. With more grace. And courage. And faith.

I pray we were able to return some of that strength and encouragement Wednesday night.