Just a tad bit north of here sits a high school. A high school named after a man named Pearce and affectionately called, "JJP," by those who claim it as their own.
When I first encountered this group of JJP Alumni, I was taken aback. Five years after high school and still the absolute best of friends? Impressive, to say the least. Every day that passes with these former Mustangs I am taken aback by their friendships and their ever growing community.
I like to think that my high school friends are still some of my closest friends and always will be, but my class of '02 has nothing on JJ Pearce's class of '02. Never have I seen a group of friends come together and celebrate every joy and every triumph like this group. Never have I seen a group of people so devoted to one another in love that they drop absolutely everything and rush to the side of their ailing friend (or friends). I've never seen a community that is so deeply rooted together that one person's pain is truly each and every one of their pains as well.
For over a year now I've been lucky enough to somewhat be a part of this wonderfully close group of people. I've always loved how close they were and I've secretly admired their undying devotion to one another and their precious JJ Pearce High School, but until last night I've never understood just how supremely dedicated they are to each other and to being Jesus in the flesh to everyone around them. Yesterday, in the midst of terrible pain and sadness, they were still able to come together and rejoice and be glad for someone else's happiest day.
In the beginning, I called them a clique, mostly because I so badly wanted to be friends with them (not because they made fun of my Doc Martens or wouldn't let me sit at their lunch table). Now, without hesitation, I call them a great cloud of witnesses. A wonderful testament of friendship and community to me and everyone that meets them.
JJ Pearce High School has given the world much more than the Simpson sisters and several CW television show stars. JJP has given us an example of true community amongst believers that at the end of the day want nothing more than to exalt the Kingdom.
"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:1-2