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.
Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as children—
‘My child, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, or lose heart when you are punished by him; for the Lord disciplines those whom he loves, and chastises every child whom he accepts.’
Endure trials for the sake of discipline. God is treating you as children; for what child is there whom a parent does not discipline? If you do not have that discipline in which all children share, then you are illegitimate and not his children. Moreover, we had human parents to discipline us, and we respected them. Should we not be even more willing to be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share his holiness. Now, discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.
Many times I have heard people say, “I’ll be glad to see the back of that year.” What promise a new year brings to those who are struggling, but what really is different with the turn of the calendar? I never really understood. Life is sometimes tough, and a new year offers hope. As we approach the end of this year, I do understand. This year I look forward to the promise of next year.
I’m not particularly athletic, but I, along with you and everyone else, have been running this year. We have run to keep up with legislation, with technology, with the needs of our communities. We have run to find appropriate ways to support each other while distancing. We have been running for months. Many of us are tired.
We have managed to keep running because we have that cloud of witnesses around us. Our friends have encouraged us, have offered ideas, have laughed and cried with us. Stil it has been a tough race. Our hands may be drooping. Our knees may be weak, and we keep running. People need us. They need us to fight for justice, to work for the planet, to offer a caring presence. In the midst of brokenness, they need us to create a community of healing.
In the midst of struggle the author of Hebrews wants us to remember who is our guide and why we are still running. So whatever today holds Christ continues to guide us. We are called to run–even the least athletic among us. Listen to voices of encouragement and keep moving so that what is lame, broken in our world, may be healed.
God, thank you for the witnesses who encourage us, who guide us. Give us courage to keep running. Help us create communities of peace and justice. Give us the gift of love in the face of pain. God, grant us strength to be your people on the race for your kingdom. Amen.
The Rev’d Martha McInnes, Minister, Cardiff and Penarth Churches