Reading for Three Voices from Hebrews 11:1-12:2 (NRSV)
1. Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
2. By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain’s. . . . He died, but through his faith he still speaks.
1. By faith Enoch was taken so that he did not experience death.
3. By faith Noah, warned by God about events as yet unseen, respected the warning and built an ark to save his household.
2. By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he stayed for a time in the land he had been promised, as in a foreign land, living in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
3. By faith Abraham received power of procreation, even though he was too old—and Sarah herself was barren—because he considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one person, and this one as good as dead, descendants were born, ‘as many as the stars of heaven and as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.’
1. All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, God has prepared a city for them.
2. By faith Isaac invoked blessings for the future on Jacob and Esau.
3. By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, ‘bowing in worship over the top of his staff.’
2. By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave instructions about his burial.
3. By faith Moses was hidden by his parents for three months after his birth, because they saw that the child was beautiful; and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.
1. By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called a son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to share ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. . . . By faith he left Egypt, unafraid of the king’s anger; for he persevered as though he saw him who is invisible.
3. By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as if it were dry land.
2. By faith the walls of Jericho fell after they had been encircled for seven days.
3. By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had received the spies in peace.
1. And what more should I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon,
2. of David
3. and Samuel
1. and the prophets—
2. who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.
All: since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,
3. let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely,
2. and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith,
1. who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.