Remembering The Faithful - Hebrews 11-12 (Wednesday Night Reflection)


One of my favorite apps on my phone is called Timehop.  I like it for the same reason that I like the “On this Day” section of Facebook.  What I like is that both of these comb through your history of social media posts and “check-ins” and remind you what you were doing on a given day.  For instance, this morning I was reminded that three years ago today I was watching Davey run with the Methodist University Cross Country Team at Hagan Stone Park and that nine years ago today I was playing Heroclix with Davey while waiting on the arrival of a grandbaby (that would not arrive for 21 more days). 
Remembering…the act of remembering events of the past is important to so many of us for a variety of reasons.  For some it is a passion, for others it is simply nostalgia. Some seek to remain connected to their heritage, others just have a love for history.
The act of remembering is stressed all throughout Scripture…the call to remember the faithfulness of God.  The Hebrew people have many festivals that were part of their acts of remembering—from Passover to the Festival of Booths and others.  Even part of the weekly Sabbath rest was an act of remembering.  Jesus continued the implementation of festivals for the purpose of remembering.  When he gathered for the Passover meal with His disciples, as they gathered together to celebrate and remember God’s acts of saving His people from slavery in Egypt, Jesus took bread and wine and established a new ritual…one that we will observe Sunday, and He called His disciples to continue to celebrate what we now come to call The Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion, or the Eucharist, celebrating God’s faithfulness in saving His people from sin and death.
However, tonight’s reading stresses a different kind of remembering.  It is not about remembering the faithfulness of God.  It is a call to remember the faithfulness of God’s people…and rather than simply scanning back the social media posts of the previous decade (not that the people of Scripture had the opportunity to make social media posts—if folks remember dial-up internet connections, think of how long it would’ve taken to post something via stone tablet, papyrus, or carrier pigeon).  The author of Hebrews scanned back thousands of years to nearly the origins of humanity to consider the faithfulness of Abel all the way to Jesus.
In a book that begins by focusing on the surpassing greatness of Christ, why the sudden shift from Scriptural focus of the faithfulness of God to focusing on the faithfulness of God’s people?  It is often thought that this book was written to the the early Jewish Christians.  This group had likely faced persecution after persecution…from both the Roman Empire as well as from their Jewish brothers and sisters who had not come to see Christ as their Messiah.  In light of this persecution, the author of the book turns to the “faithful” of history to give them courage to hold on.
Remember Abel and his acceptable sacrifice…
Remember Enoch who walked and talked with God…
Remember Noah and his willingness to build the ark…despite the fact no one had ever seen it rain.
Remember Abraham and his willingness to head sight unseen to a land God would show him…and his willingness to offer up Isaac as a sacrifice…
Remember Isaac…remember Jacob…
Remember Joseph remaining faithful to God despite being betrayed time and again…
Remember Moses…his mother’s faithfulness and his own faithfulness to stand up to the pharaoh…and his faithfulness to God directions of celebrating the first Passover…
Remember Rahab who faith in God came from someone that was not even part of the Hebrew community…
Remember Gideon…
Remember Barak…
Remember Sampson…
Remember Jephthah…
Remember David…
Remember Samuel…
Remember the prophets…
Each of these enduring persecution, from lions to fires to armies to torture to flogging to imprisonment to mocking…to being stoned to death, cut in half, slain by the sword…
They are to be your examples of faithfulness…but even beyond them, the author says, remember the pioneer and perfecter of faithfulness…remember Christ.  Jesus, He is the one who shows us true and complete faithfulness…Christ, who suffered to leave Hi throne in heaven and enter this world as a tiny infant; Christ, who willingly endured rejection by the religious self-righteous, by image conscious friends, by zealous friends; Christ, who willingly allowed himself to be arrested, mocked, flogged, and then nailed to a cross…and yet not once did His faith waver…
Consider each of these, but most importantly Christ, as you struggle and wrestle…and strive through the strength of God’s Spirit residing in you as it did in them, to remain faithful.
Remember…Remember…Remember the faithful and take heart, have courage, hold on…
With Christ as the perfect example of faithfulness, many since have striven to be faithful.  Today is the day to remember them.  Today is All Saint’s Day.  Today is the day to remember and honor those who have gone before us and remained faithful.  Today is a day to celebrate their faithfulness to God despite difficulties, despite challenges, despite adversity.  Each of us has someone in our lives who has been part of this great cloud of witnesses to the faith…those who’s faithfulness to God has played and impacting role in our own.  They may be a family member, they may be a friend, they may be a mentor, they may be a colleague.  Many may have entered into the rest of Christ’s loving embrace.  Others may still be active in our lives.  Tonight, is an opportunity to remember them…to give thanks to God and celebrate their faithfulness.
Tonight, I invite you to come forward as Davey gently plays and light a candle in memory of a saint that has gone before us or in honor of a saint among us.  You may light it in silence and return to your seat.  You may light it and name the person.  You may light it and share witness of their name and the impact they had upon your life.  When all have had an opportunity to come forward, we will offer a prayer and then stand as Davey leads us in our closing hymn…


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