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 perfecter 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)
Yesterday was a blustery day with leaves swirling all around - almost as if they were chasing each other. As the day proceeded, the air grew colder, more clouds appeared, and the snow began. As I witnessed all this from the warmth of my home, I still felt a chill. I grabbed a shawl that I have for such occasions.
As I snuggled into the shawl, I looked at it and remembered that this was a prayer shawl that I was given when I became a District Superintendent. I lifted a prayer of gratitude. As I drew it closer, I felt the prayers of the maker and the Almighty Maker. I was given a "spiritual hug" by this prayer shawl!
During this time of social distancing, we are not hugging, hand shaking, hand holding, fist bumping, or putting an arm around the shoulder. We long for the time when we can physically connect with each other again. We may even feel alone and isolated. The Scripture verse from Hebrews reminds us that we are surrounded by a "cloud of witnesses." We are not alone, we are connected by the bonds of God’s love, grace, and our communal prayers.
In the meantime, you may want to find your own sort of "spiritual hug" – a prayer shawl, a cross in your pocket, or a prayer stone. May you feel God’s warmth and love. Amen.
May this devotion provide you with a moment of faithful reflection and care. You are involved in ministries of justice and witness, in ministries of standing up and standing with people working to create better systems and communities, in ministries of learning and searching and researching to become more aware and awakened, more technologically savvy and proficient, more virtually and personally present in your churches and communities and world. Each of us who serve as members of your Wisconsin Cabinet write these devotions in grateful prayer for you – for sustenance and buoyancy, for strength and courage, for safety and just actions, and for faith and love to be full and fulfilled in your daily lives. God’s grace and blessings, God’s challenge and healthy discomfort, God’s Spirit and energy be with you, in the hope Christ offers us all.