Scripture Text: Hebrews 12:1-2
1. Our idea is that when the church gathers to worship it’s a lot like a Potluck Supper. It’s
something that has to have everyone participate in order to work – everyone brings something.
a. You can’t pull off a potluck all by yourself. It’s the same with worship.
Yes, you can worship anytime, anywhere.
But not as a substitute for worship as a time and place where people gather together in the presence of God.
b. A church in the late 60’s AD, struggling to hold on to their faith in a world increasingly hostile to their religious beliefs, was starting to feel like it would be better if they did their own thing privately. Gathering was too risky and troublesome.
The writer warns them against that kind of thinking: says they would deny themselves a mysterious yet powerful gift.
2. Read scripture from the Message Read Romans 12:1-2
a. The Greek word for Cloud, Nephos, formed the basis for the Latin word Nebula – the word used to describe a type of galaxy full of stars.
It’s also the base for the English word Nebulous, meaning hazy, undefined.
b. The Worshiping Church is much more than what you see at a certain place on a Sunday morning.
When people gather to worship they connect with a vast grid formed, created and added to constantly by God to change your life and change
I pray you experience that power as we worship together right now.
3. Next was a video introduction of church attendees speaking about what worship means to
4. These days when people hear the words, “The Cloud” they aren’t looking up at something in the sky. It’s what they connect to through their computer, laptop, tablet, phone, even car.
a. My parents met while working for IBM, and my Dad logged 25 years as a systems engineer.
b. As Computers developed, they
weren’t just used for performing complex computations but also saving, storing and retrieving data from the past.
Over the years, Dad showed me the evolution of storage: boxes of punch cards, magnetic tape reels then cartridges, floppy disks then hard drives
The amount of data you could store went from kilo- to mega- to giga- to terra- while the hardware went from the size of a huge white room to the palm of my hand.
c. Now all you need is an internet connection to link you to vast complexes of data storage linked together all over the world. You can put everything
you’ve ever created in the cloud, and keep adding to it as you go.
5. The writer of Hebrews tells Christians they are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses
a. In context with what he’s been talking about in chaps 10 & 11, he’s talking about past heroes of the faith, like Abraham, Moses, David and others.
Who are the witnesses you keep in your cloud storage?
b. But I think the writer goes back to chaps. 1 & 2, the cloud includes angels and spiritual
helpers who are operating now in the
c. Who got uploaded to your cloud even
this past week?
d. And using the nebulous term “cloud” is a deliberate attempt to keep the circle open, unlimited to the boundaries of past and present. It includes those who aren’t yet but will be.
I know my cloud hasn’t reached its storage capacity. I can’t wait to see all the people who will be added throughout the remainder of my life.
6. What the writer is trying to tell his church is that whenever they are gathered as a church they are gathered with THE church of all times and places: all that ever existed, now exist, and who won’t exist for another two thousand years.
a. But that doesn’t mean just anyone,
but those who are witnesses – not
spectators or curious attenders.
b. The Greek word witness is marturos from which we get the word martyr: someone who dares to put their faith before any other concern, who doesn’t compromise, who opens up their life for public view.
c. When we gather for worship, we
upload ourselves into the presence of
this incredible, awesome group of faithful people.
7. But what if all those people are wrong?
a. They may be witnesses, but they’re also humans. Human history has shown us it’s possible to be heroic,
totally committed and morally admirable but also misguided.
b. This Cloud of Witnesses is surrounding someone but it’s not just you.
The writer uses a sophisticated literary technique in vss. 1-2 called chiastic structure – a technique used to draw the reader to a converging point in the text.
c. At center of this verse, the one surrounded by the Cloud, is Jesus.
Scripture says the Son of God, the Savior of the World is the same yesterday today and tomorrow; He is the alpha and omega.
And He is here, standing by our side, all of our sides.
8. To my new friends I say if you want or need
access to a vast storehouse of grace, transformation, healing and power then upload yourself into Christ and what you also receive is a vast network to love you, challenge you and walk with you.
a. To the people of the church I say don’t settle for any worship or any experience of God which disconnects you from the Body of Christ.
b. And don’t just spectate, be a part of the cloud, be a witness, and be a part of the surrounding for someone else.
9. PAPER PLATE EXERCISE – during communion – Jesus’ name at center, surround him with the people in your cloud – past, present, future
a. Leave it behind