Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb 12:1-2 NKJ)
I have always thought of the scripture as meaning that the great cloud of witnesses consists of those that have gone before, having run their race, they now cheer us on, and I believe that to be a correct exegesis. However, as I sit at home, just past midnight, it struck me that not only am I surrounded by a heavenly throng but a vibrant living cloud of witnesses, each one offering worship to God.
Those from a different faith community, Catholic, Orthodox, Mennonite, and Quaker, as well as all the various evangelical groups. Then we add culture, and you have the Syrian Orthodox church that chants and sings in Aramaic, or the First Nation people that seek to be in tuned with the Spirit and creation.
Today I start a course teaching world religions at the university. During the eight-week, I will take the students through Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, and Islam. With the exception of Hinduism and Buddhism, I believe that Christianity, Islam, and Judaism have more to agree upon than disagree. All three are Abrahamic and worship one God. Perhaps we’re a bit like cousins?
So added to the crescendo of praise the true Muslim worshipper calls out, “Subhaan Allah, Alhamdo lillah, Allaho Akbar,” Giving glory and praise to the great God! Or the true Jewish worshipper who lifts his or her voice, “Baruch shem k’vodo l’olam”, “Blessed be His glorious name” (Psalm 72:19
So let us pray, and as my prayer joins with others in heaven and on the earth, we bear witness to the goodness of God. “Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! (Psa 103:1 NKJ)