Remembering the saints

Published 9:50 am Thursday, May 23, 2019

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2, NRSV)

The writer of Hebrews — whoever he or she may have been — has just finished a section in which they have lifted up a series of saints of the faith, those people who, as we like to say, “walked the walk.” People who ventured in faith even when the evidences of their lives seemed to indicate they should do something else. Still, they persisted, and their persistence caused this writer, and many others, to lift up this group as a “great cloud of witnesses.”

This is Memorial Day weekend, the time for us to remember those who gave their lives for our freedoms. It’s also a good time to think of those who are still out there, still serving in the Armed Forces to keep us safe. A Memorial Day doesn’t go by for me without thinking of my dad who served for 30 months of active combat during World War II, as well as his brothers who also served. And I also think of those people I am proud to call friends who are still serving, and I keep them in prayer for safety and guidance as they go about their work.

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But during Memorial Day, I want to think of other people. Those who serve on the front lines of police and firefighting work; those who keep the streets clean and the garbage picked up; those who have to listen to complaints all day and try not to take that baggage back home with them at the end of the day. I want to think of school teachers and nurses who work hard at one-on-one relationships, keeping people safe and healthy, even when they are uncooperative.

I want to think of those nonprofit groups who go above and beyond taking care of people the rest of us would like to ignore. I want to think of those people who labor in retirement facilities, especially those who work with Alzheimer’s patients, who often have to hear the same story over and over again, and give the impression they have never heard it before.

The list goes on, but you get the picture. There are a whole line of saints in our days, a veritable cloud of witnesses. There are people who give up of their time and abilities and give it to help those on the fringes. They are my saints, and they are worth remembering.

REV. DR. TOM ROBINSON can be reached at robin216@