November 10, 2019

Grace, So Great a Cloud of Witnesses

Grace, So Great a Cloud of Witnesses

“So Great a Cloud of Witnesses”
Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-32, 12:1-2
Rev. Paul E. Capetz Christ Church by the Sea (United Methodist),
Newport Beach November 10, 2019 Today we celebrate “All Saints Day.”

This is the day we remember those in this congregation who have died or those close to this congregation who have died. We acknowledge their lives and mourn their passing, and we give thanks for their influence on our lives and the example they gave us by the way they lived their lives. We all have departed dear ones whose memory we cherish and keep alive in our hearts. They have left an indelible mark on us and we can’t forget them. Today is a day for celebrating their lives and giving thanks to God for them.

I remember the first person in my life who died when I was a child. Her name was Dora. She was an immigrant from Romania and a cousin of my father with whom my father lived when he went to college. Dora was like a grandmother to me. She was so kind and warm. I visited her grave a few years ago. It’s hard to believe that she has now been dead for 55 years. One of my fond memories of her is that she read to me a little book written for children about the story of the little boy who went to hear Jesus speak. His mother had packed him a lunch of five barely loaves and two fish (John 6:9). This would be the lunch that Jesus would turn into a meal for 5,000 people. I relate this memory to you because it illustrates an important fact: we all came to Christian faith through the mediation of other people. Before I could ever read the Bible for myself, other people told me stories about Jesus or read to me stories about Jesus. Dora was one of these people. I was 7 years old when she died, and my grief was terrible. My parents tried to explain that Dora was now in heaven with Jesus, but I’m not sure how well I understood what they were trying to tell me. All I understood was that she was gone from my life. But what my parents were trying to explain to me I now understand: Dora is not really gone from my life.

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