The Cloud of Witnesses

[From Newsletter, 5/20/09]

I got more than I bargained for in teaching Christianity 101 on Sunday nights. While the crowd that has come so far was not my target crowd of younger folks who wanted to know more about the faith, I have found myself challenged by seasoned Christians who want to know even more about their faith. So after dissecting the creeds and examining essential Christian doctrines – and thinking we were done - we are now delving into how God worked through people and history to illuminate His will and wishes for us. As a result, I have had to go back and “restudy” early Christian history and the Early Church Fathers. It is serendipitous that my studies have coincided with the celebration of Older Adult Sunday and our OWLS (Older, Wiser, Laughing Souls) Banquet today – I am so reminded of how grateful we should be for those saints who have gone before us and on whose shoulders we stand upon.

I am reminded of this quote from one of my mentors, Prof. Justo Gonz├íles (who always said when getting one of our names wrong that we gringos looked all alike) from his book The Story of Christianity:
Like it or not, we are heirs of… diverse and even contradictory witnesses. Some of their actions we may find revolting, and others inspiring. But all of them form part of our journey. All of them, those whom we admire and well as those whom we despise, brought us to where we are now.

Without understanding that past, we are unable to understand ourselves, for in a sense the past still lives in us and influences who we are and how we understand the Christian message… When we stand, sit, or kneel in church, when we sing a hymn, recite a creed, or refuse to cite one, when we build a church or preach a sermon, a past of which we may not be aware is one of the factors involved in our actions.
Cindy Hubble painted this mural/banner for our use last Sunday morning. It is a reminder to us how important our past is to our future in the faith (click on it to enlarge it).

God’s wisdom is ageless. Let us be open to it – and pass it on.