A cloud of witnesses (30-07-21)
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. (Hebrews 12. 1 – 2)
After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshipped God, (Revelation 7. 9 – 11)
A Thought When the first Covid-19 lockdown happened, many churches transferred their services online, either pre-recorded on YouTube like ours in the Walgrave Benefice or live-streamed on Zoom or Facebook. It was all thanks to the wonders of modern technology and happened remarkably quickly. This has been church in a new medium, and many have benefitted. The shielding and housebound have been able to join in worship, and those uncertain about faith have been able to dip a toe in the water of church anonymously. Some of us have enjoyed Coffee and Cake on Zoom after the services. But is this ‘real’ church?
Over the past year, these new experiences have fuelled much theological debate about the nature of the church, where and how it meets, and what constitutes authentic fellowship. It has got me thinking too.
One of my favourite sections in the communion service is the part of the Eucharistic Prayer that speaks of worshipping together ‘with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven’. This is a powerful reminder that when we worship, we are not only worshipping with the group of people present with us at the time. We are also worshipping with those in heaven who we cannot see. The writer to the Hebrews says they surround us in a great cloud, spurring us on in our Christian life. Is this cloud any less real than the IT cloud out there somewhere that stores the data for my laptop or phone? I may not understand how it works, but the data is definitely saved somewhere and I can recall it whenever I wish.
When we worship, we have the privilege of joining with the angels and the great crowd of witnesses, who stand before the throne of God. And in these days of continuing Covid, they remind us again and again that ‘Salvation belongs to our God’. May they inspire us in our worship and encourage us to persevere.
A Prayer Living God, may we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, as we worship with the angels and archangels and all the company of heaven. Amen.
Angel voices ever singing