A Cloud of Wtnesses
Honoring The Past
It was a cold January in 1994. I had just been transferred to the Coke Plant facility at U.S. Steel for my new job assignment as a firebrick mason. I was nervous because the extreme temperatures surrounding the Coke Batteries that I would be working on and in. I joined the crew: There was Irv - 58 yrs old with the beginning signs if Alzheimers, There was Frank, 45 years old, and KY, nicknamed after his home state of Kentucky. He was just over sixty. And then there was me. I was the young buck. I was partnered with KY and assigned to go up on top of the Coke Battery and change a standpipe base. We approached the Battery and I saw the glowing orange brick and the heat waves pouring out into the morning sun. The workers near the battery were wearing protective heat gear and special respirator masks. Not KY. We made our way up the stairs to the top of the batter. The heat was so intensive. I was offered wooden sandals to go outside the heels of my special boots to help sheild my feet from the heat. KY didn't take them so neither did I. The top of the battery was a dangerous place. A large machine carried the raw coal from one end of the battery to the various ovens and dumped it in to be processed by heat for several hours. It spanned the entire width of the battery except a few feet on either side. I had been warned of the danger of fatality and sever injury that could result in being in the wrong place. KY began walking out onto the top of the battery. I didn't want to go. It was too hot, too dangerous, and I didn't have a clue as to what I was supposed to do. KY noticed that and turned around and said "just follow me kid, I've done this a hundred times. Just walk where I walk, do what I do, and you'll be okay - oh, and tell me if you get too hot, I'll walk you back off the battery.
I learned to trust KY not because of his age, or his skill, or his education. I trusted KY because he had already walked where I needed to walk. He knew the dangers, he knew how to take the heat and survive. I want to talk to you today about walking where others have walked.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses...
- Their faithfulness drives us toward purity. v.1a
- throw off everything that hinders and the sin that easily entangles...
- and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Sermon text with italics and bold and John 3:16 and v. 20.
Text with an outline.
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