Saturday Advent Devotion with Dick and Diane Formica
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfector of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12: 1 – 3
This verse was shared during a Bible study that I attended while at the National War College. It was a favorite verse of one of those in the class. It has meant a lot to me ever since. I was particularly taken by the notion of running the race with perseverance and, of course, the focus on Jesus. I shared it with Diane. Over the years, we came to appreciate that by sharing, this person became, unwittingly to us at the time, one of the cloud of witnesses who had surrounded us.
Last year, Diane and I were blessed with the opportunity to lead an Advent study. The study, ‘Almost Christmas’ was based on John Wesley’s sermon ‘The Almost Christian’. The study challenged us to experience growth from Almost Christmas to Altogether Christmas with a deeper look at Peace, Hope, Love, and Joy.
One of the highlights turned out to be the cloud of witnesses in that class. We asked each member to share their favorite Bible verse(s) and were strengthened by that personal sharing. Jay Moughon refers to this frequently during the UMM Saturday Morning Bible study so it seems that this was as enriching for him as it was for us.
The Bible verses shared spoke of Jesus, love, peace, hope and joy. They also spoke of faith, reassurance, and encouragement. They were from the Old Testament and New. Psalms, Proverbs, Gospels, and Paul’s letters. Some very familiar…others less so. But they were deeply personal and meaningful.
Through our sharing, we became the cloud of witnesses strengthening one another not just as we prepared for Christmas but also to run with perseverance as we face the challenges and opportunities of life that lay ahead. Amen.