(note: our readings take a detour today as the church observes the festival of All Saints' day)
Through all of Hebrews chapter 11, we are encouraged by the lives of the Old Testament saints, who lived in faith, looking forward to the realization of the promises God had made but not yet fulfilled. "Faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen" (Hebrews 11.1 CSB). At the end of the chapter, the writer [consistently believed by the early church to be Paul] starts to omit details and summarize their great deeds, pointing out that "the world was not worthy of them" and then moving to use these examples to encourage us to holy living. "Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith" (Hebrews 12.1-2 CSB).
Beginning with Christ, as the source and perfecter of our faith, St. John Chrysostom encourages us to live in him and by his strength and grace. "As in all arts and games, we impress the art upon our mind by looking to our masters, receiving certain rules through our sight, so here also, if we wish to run and to learn to run well, let us look to Christ, even to Jesus, 'the author and finisher of our faith.' What is this? He has put the faith within us. For he said to his disciples, 'You did not choose me, but I chose you'; and Paul too says, 'But then shall I understand, even as I have been fully understood.' He put the beginning into us; he will also put on the end" (John Chrysostom, On the Epistle to the Hebrews).
O ALMIGHTY God, who hast knit together thine elect in one communion and fellowship, in the mystical body of thy Son Christ our Lord: Grant us grace so to follow thy blessed Saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those unspeakable joys, which thou hast prepared for them that unfeignedly love thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
--Book of Common Prayer
Photo credit: Fra Angelico, Public Domain, Wikipedia