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And what more should I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets — who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received their dead by resurrection. Others were tortured, refusing to accept release, in order to obtain a better resurrection. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned to death, they were sawn in two, they were killed by the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, persecuted, tormented — of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.
Yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better so that they would not, apart from us, be made perfect.
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.
As anyone knows who’s been in the building, all by themselves, late at night, this church can be a spooky place. Now I recognize that “spooky” is probably not the best word to use when describing a church, but I call them like I see them. And when it’s all dark and you’re alone, this building can be sort of eery, if you’re susceptible to that kind of thing. I mean, there are all kinds of squeaking and creaking that I’m sure sound louder at 11:00 pm than 11:00 am. And whatever you may hear is compounded by being in my office, when all you can see as you look out the window is a brick wall. And since Jocelyn often does her work late on Saturday night, I’m always relieved to see her coming down the hall right after I’ve heard the door open.
And I’ll tell you, sometimes our world is a scary place, with all kinds of stuff happening that we can’t control and that we certainly don’t want. And because of that, it’s not surprising that when minor things happen, we tend to expect them to get worse fast. But when we feel those things start to rise, I think it crucial for us to think about this passage from Hebrews and to remember that, regardless of what happens, we are not alone.