This past week we celebrated both All Saints Day (remembering the martyrs, apostles, and doctors of the church) and All Souls Day (remembering the generations of faithful believers that have gone before us). In this context, tomorrow is a very special service of Holy Communion where we remember those that have gone before us and are now present with Christ.
Hebrews 12 reminds us . . .
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
What is beautiful about this verse is the present tense that we here on Earth are surrounded presently/currently by so great a cloud of witnesses. The saints and souls that have gone before us that are present with Christ right now awaiting the consummation of His Kingdom where they will be physically raised. When death will be abolished and all of the dead will be raised in Christ, but they are spiritually present with Christ right now and surround us with their good example. These dear souls include those who turned to Christ even at the moment of their death, such as the thief on the cross.
Focusing on Hebrews 12, this cloud of witnesses encourage us to press on and they point us to the the founder and perfecter of our faith, Jesus Christ. Their testimony is not about themselves but about Christ and His work in their lives. We remember them for this encouragement.
Even this past week our congregation has suffered loss. Mandi lost her older brother Chad. Chad was baptized, knew the Gospel, and in the last several years cleaned up his life and trusted in his faith in God. He is now one of those souls that surround us.
Tomorrow, in the solemnity of All Saints and All Souls, we will pray for those who have died and now are with Christ. It is a solemn, beautiful service at which the names of the departed are read aloud. It is not too late to include names of people, whether they have died recently or years ago: please email info@StEdmundsMKE.org.