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)
The words of this passage had new meaning when my sister Mary was suffering the last stages of kidney failure. Appointed her legal advocate, I began the race set before me, to fulfill her wish to die at home.
Struggling with medical personnel and insurance companies helped me realize that I was not alone, but surrounded by a cloud of witnesses. My parents, husband, and siblings reminded me to look to Jesus. I had to run with perseverance and lay aside the weight of sorrow and doubt. I was running out of breath, but I kept going. The promise was fulfilled: Mary died at home.
Now, this race is over. Mary is at peace, and I too, have found peace in knowing that she is among the cloud of witnesses who will continue to race with me on my Christian journey.
This message is adapted from a devotion written by Sandra E. Holloway for Women of the ELCA in 1999.