At our congregation's annual meeting, we share, celebrate and confess the ministry of the previous year, we assess our current mission and ministry and we look forward to what is coming. We also do the less romantic work of the church. We argue about finances. Someone asks where all the young people are. Young people ask why there's no childcare during the meeting. Another suggests we sing "The Old Rugged Cross" each Sunday.
Paul's invitation to set aside sin and engage what is before us begins with the announcement that the church is not just those who show up, but witnesses: a great cloud of witnesses who don't just observe, but who visibly, vocally and publicly witness to the resurrection of Christ for the sake of the world. Our witnessing may not always be bold, beautiful, clear, inspiring and uplifting, but we're church together, a cloud of witnesses looking at what is set before us and trusting Christ.
Hebrews 12:1-3 (NRSV)
1 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,
2 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.
3 Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.