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“Since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:1-2, New Living Translation).
Recently, three very special people in our lives have died. One was a retired businessman in his nineties who had faithfully, graciously walked with God and supported Kingdom endeavors throughout his life. Another was a man in his sixties who had looked forward to many more years of international ministry. Perhaps the death that shattered the emotions of even more people was that of a vibrant, beautiful, talented 51-year-old woman who lost an eighteen-month battle with cancer.
Remembering the saints
November first is celebrated as All Saints’ Day in several parts of the world. It is a time to remember these deeply loved friends and family members whose earthly lives are over. Many Christians also take time on this day to recall unnamed but remembered men and women who have deeply influenced the world in a variety of ways.
Although the precise origins of the song, “When the Saints Go Marching In” are unknown (words often attributed to Katharine Purvis), its vibrant melody has become a rallying call reminding us of the New Testament words, “we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses”.
But the New Testament writer tells us that just remembering is not enough. He urges us to put action to our memories, to make the lives of the saints an impetus for following faithfully in their wake. We are to always make the example of Jesus our pattern for living just as they did. The song says it this way, “We are trav’ling in the footsteps of those who’ve gone before…”
Questions: Can you think of some men and women who have deeply influenced the world? What was it about them that you admire?
About the Author Marilyn J. Ehle