And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching. – Hebrews 10:24-25 (NRSV)
In college, I double-majored in English and History and learned a few things about reading books and letters written a long, long time ago that shape my thinking still. Who wrote this, and when and where? Who translated it, and what influenced the choices they made? What is this word stirring up in me?
We don’t know much for certain about who wrote the book of Hebrews, or when or where, so any interpretation is a best guess. The people who neglected to meet were probably not going out to brunch instead, but trying to stay safe from persecution faced by the early church. I sometimes wonder if the belief that Christ would soon return, “the Day approaching,” felt like a relief for them. The present challenges would end. In the meantime, maybe they could just wait safely at home?
The author said, “Gather anyway! We need each other.”
Almost 2000 years later, we may not think much about the Day, the invitation to gather may seem less pressing, and the alternatives for our time are many. We may spend more time thinking about the looming end of the world at human hands than about the return of Christ.
Yet these words stir something in me; they provoke me to remember how my growth in faith has never come as a solitary exercise. We need each other for support and challenge and inspiration, too.
We need each other, in the meantime, no matter how long that is.
Gracious God, give us the communities we need. Amen.