So great a cloud

Needing rain and attending 5 funerals in the past 10 days has gotten me reflecting.  Here is part of the lectionary text for this week:

NLT Hebrews 11:29 It was by faith that the people of Israel went right through the Red Sea as though they were on dry ground. But when the Egyptians followed, they were all drowned. 30 It was by faith that the people of Israel marched around Jericho seven days, and the walls came crashing down. 31 It was by faith that Rahab the prostitute did not die with all the others in her city who refused to obey God. For she had given a friendly welcome to the spies. 32 Well, how much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets. 33 By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight. 35 Women received their loved ones back again from death. But others trusted God and were tortured, preferring to die rather than turn from God and be free. They placed their hope in the resurrection to a better life. 36 Some were mocked, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in dungeons. 37 Some died by stoning, and some were sawed in half; others were killed with the sword. Some went about in skins of sheep and goats, hungry and oppressed and mistreated. 38 They were too good for this world. They wandered over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground. 39 All of these people we have mentioned received God’s approval because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. 40 For God had far better things in mind for us that would also benefit them, for they can’t receive the prize at the end of the race until we finish the race.(1
12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish.(1 )He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterward. Now he is seated in the place of highest honor beside God’s throne in heaven.

We are fortunate who have had shoulders from which to stand and move toward the future.  The church is a prime example of people’s faithfulness being foundational for the next generation to know Christ.  I grow weary of all the stone throwing about the church.  Sure it is full of problems, but remember it is made up of people like me and you!  Of course there will be issues, even Jesus dealt with them when he was walking on earth.  Remember Peter being referred to as satan?  Remember all the disciples who stood by Jesus during the crucifixion?  Right, because most of them ran for the hills at his greatest moment of need.

But for all our failings, God continues to work in and through us.  It is therefore important that we take some time to remember those who have paved the way for who and where we are today.  As with the post below about praying for children, I encourage us all to take some time and thank God for those living and deceased who were instrumental in our lives of faith!