Friday, August 17, 2007

The others

Faith by example. Vicarious learning. If he can do it, well, so can I. They are rooting for you. The perfect example in Christ. These are the thoughts that surround the Hebrews reading for this Sunday. The community that encourages. The community who persevered for Love, the community who knows your name when cheering on the sidelines of your life. I have thought it quite scary to think that there is this cloud of witnesses gawking on at my life. I usually think, “What would they think if they saw me now?” I had a grandfather who was a Methodist minister. I have a box of his sermons and a few bits and pieces of his prayers still with me. To be honest, I am not sure what he would be saying to me now. I did not know him that well. All I know was that he married off a number of people in my congregation in the 1950’s and that he was a typical minister of the early 20th century, still Victorian in moral stature and autocratic in nature. Would he be encouraging me or would he be making clicking noises with his mouth? On further reflection I think 'Gamps', the man I once spilt coffee on at a drive-in would be very proud to have a grandson in the Methodist ministry. It is a great pity we did not have the time to talk and share things. If we did he would have had the chance to share how he had persevered and how he had sacrificed much to bring the Gospel to this country. Oh, how I wish he had had a diary, a journal from which I could have gleaned something from. That would have encouraged me greatly. The cloud of witnesses stands ever before us to encourage and empower us by their example. We can still read the journals, the autobiographies, the biographies, and history books that tell us much about this cloud of witnesses. Not only do our examples lie buried in history. There are currently in our times people who are burning examples of the faith. In our confirmation class this year the one exercise was for the confirmation candidates to find somebody who they regarded as a ‘saint’ and go and interview them. They asked about their lives and how they lived out their Christian example. It is good to look around and be encouraged by so many who have shown us the way.

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