Devotional: November 1, 2021
Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it.
Hebrews 12: 1-2 The Message
Fall is a time for sports, especially football, but also Major League Baseball and the World Series, as well as local sports. This year, stadiums have some fans cheering on their teams. Last year, it was strange for many teams, as they had to perform without the benefit of spectators. The loud cheers for the home team with the physical presence of their fan base were absent last year, but have returned this year.
This translation of Hebrews 12 uses the imagery of cheering to celebrate those who went before us in the faith. In his mind’s eye, the Apostle Paul imagines all of these veterans in the faith, all of these pioneers. He even names them in the previous chapter of his letter to Hebrews, Chapter 11. Sometimes called “the hall of faith”, this well-known chapter of Hebrews is where Paul mentions Noah, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac, Moses, Joseph, and Rahab. He sees them all as “pioneers” in the faith.
Today is All Saint’s Day. While we Protestants do not believe it is appropriate to pray to the saints, it is appropriate and good to honor and remember them. After all, Paul mentioned them by name, as he sought to encourage people through his letter.
Who is a saint? While some might restrict the definition to only those who are mentioned in scripture, or officially canonized by a church, I believe there is nothing wrong with expanding the definition. A saint can be anyone who has gone before you, or is even present with you now. The only requirement is that they be a wonderful example and an inspiration, and a great encourager for you in the Christian faith. We should give our thanks for those people.
We all need people who cheer us on. As Christians, we are blessed with an abundance of such role models. They all are people we can look up. Inspired by them, we start running the race of faith: studying the Word of God, and keeping our eyes on Jesus all the way. Let us be thankful for all of the “saints” in our lives, especially on this day. May we be inspired, as each of us runs our own race of faith!
Lord of all times, and all people,
On this day, I offer you thanks for those who have gone before me. I am especially thankful for all who kept the faith. My gratitude is both for those now here on earth who encourage me, as well as brothers and sisters are now in heaven, with you. When my own faith is weak, remind me that from heaven’s perspective, many of them are cheering me on. Help me to remember the applause of heave, and to be inspired. I pray this prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen.