Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.
(Hebrews 12:1-2, NRSV)
This passage from Hebrews was the scripture reading for our worship on All Saints’ Day, November 1, 2020. I do not often use a dictionary to look up familiar words, but I was intrigued by the timeliness of the first definition of perseverance that came up in my Google search:
“persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.”
Isn’t that we are all doing now as we navigate the challenges and profound grief of a global pandemic, the highly charged aftermath of a presidential election, and the loss of work and wages for so many people near and far? Life is difficult. Success, no matter how defined, is an end so delayed that we cannot even see it on the horizon. And yet we persist.
We persist as individuals, doing our best to care for ourselves and others. We persist as followers of Jesus, trying to figure out what it means to love God and our neighbors in these times. We persist as a church, gathering together for virtual worship, virtual meetings, and virtual enrichment programs—but also reaching out to feed the hungry, house the homeless, protect the earth, and work toward justice and peace for all.
We find the power to persist in our faith in Jesus Christ, through whom God’s love has been revealed to us. Today’s scripture invites us to set aside all that weighs us down and to look to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. He walks ahead of us to lead the way; he walks beside us to strengthen and sustain us. So, whether we run—or walk—the race set before us, we will persevere through the current difficulties and get to the other side. We will be able to say in the words of 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
Prayer Focus: Poll Workers
Great God of All People: We thank you for all of the women and men
across the country who toiled day and night to count every vote
cast in last week’s election. We thank them for persisting in order
to ensure a free and fair election in our nation,
the foundation of our democracy. Amen