“We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses”

“We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.” Those words come to mind every time I think of the kneeling pads at Roby United Methodist church Leipic, Delaware. The pads were at the front of the altar rails. I remember vividly the first time I really noticed those pads. I was a young 26 year old pastor serving my first communion. The church was old and the pads had been in place for years. They were a rich rose color but there were obvious faded areas where knees had rev-erently kneeled to receive communion. So many years knees had pressed into the cushions in reverence for that sacred time of Holy Communion that the fabric had faded. As a young pastor I felt the weight of faith of those nameless people who had worshipped at Roby through the years. Many of those members had long ago died but still the imprint of the knees remained. I felt tears come to my eyes as I said the words of institution. I felt humbled by their faith but also I felt their pres-ence pressing in to offer encouragement for the people gathered to receive Holy Communion and on me a very green young pas-tor. I felt also the presence of those I had loved and lost, standing with us, praying for us. Lives that survived world wars, depres-sion, poverty, the hardships life can bring and I knew we would face no challenges greater than their challenges and we could be encouraged as we felt the holy power of God wash over us all. Every communion and every All Saints Day since that Sunday I remember those faded kneeling pads and feel the vital pres-ence of that great cloud of witnesses. Pastor, Pam