I can remember when the end of Summer meant I got a new pair of sneakers for Back-to-School! I always felt like those new sneakers made me run faster, jump farther, and stand taller. They gave me a sense of confidence and empowerment. With new sneakers, I felt like I could face anything, any challenge that was waiting for me in the new school year.
But that was back when I was a child and all it took was a new pair of sneakers to instill me with confidence and excitement for the days ahead. As an adult, I’m more aware of the challenges that loom, challenges that I know will take skill and dedication and courage and perseverance. The author of the letter to the Hebrews knew it too. And he knew it would take more than a new pair of sneakers for those early Christians to face what was ahead of them in the days to come. He knew it would take all of the encouragement and inspiration that only generations of the Faithful People of God could provide. He called them the Great Cloud of Witnesses. And he believed that, with their inspiration as the wind at our backs, and with Jesus as our running coach, we could face the challenges of a new day:
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 (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Rabert Sheppard will facilitate our reflection on this passage from the Letter to the Hebrews during our Sunday School class this coming Sunday. And with Jesus as the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, we will run with perseverance the race that is set before us.
I think I’ll go buy a new pair of sneakers!