Hebrews 10:23-25

“Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. 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 10:23-25

When we read a passage of scripture like this one I trust that we have the same reaction. We think, “Wow, the more things change, the more they stay the same.” This passage was written nearly two thousand years ago and yet it could have been written yesterday.

In the face of all of the bad news that constantly streams into our lives, all that we hear about terrorist attacks and natural disasters and economic uncertainty, the writer encourages us to “hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful.

When Christian leaders wonder what the heart of the faith is, when even Christians seem so divided, when we look out into the culture and wonder where the faith fits, the writer reminds us to keep it simple. “Let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds…”

When we look at the life of a local congregation, what people actually do with their time, from Sunday worship to finding opportunities to bring people together in groups, the writer cautions us to “not neglecting to meet together…” Which is a challenge today just as much as it was already a challenge in the 1st century, “as is the habit of some…”

And still, to “encourage one another” which is very different from shaming and blaming.

All of this is so timely…until it gets to the idea of “all the more as you see the Day approaching.” And then you can almost hear the brakes squealing to a stop.

In the 1st century the work of the church felt like rushing someone to the emergency room because the End was right around the corner. There was no time to waste. There was a deep sense of urgency. No one wanted to be that lazy servant surprised when the master of the vineyard showed up. Clearly people like Paul expected Jesus to usher in the end of time before the end of their lifetimes. But it didn’t happen.

So it is that in large segments of the Christian church today it feels more like encouraging people to brush, floss, and remember their annual check-ups. Any sense of urgency feels like it is attached more to the survival of the “church as we know it” rather than urgency to do what followers of Jesus are called upon to do. Which is to do what Jesus did.

We will have a funeral this morning at Faith Lutheran Church. In this I am reminded yet again that life on this earth does not last forever. I am reminded, and I will remind those attending, of the hope of eternal life made possible by the death and resurrection of Jesus. Of Paul’s words to the Corinthians, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have died in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.”

But then he goes on to say, “Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

There it is. A word from the Lord. Just what we need to hear, just when we need to hear it.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, you have welcomed us into your life. We are your hands, feet, eyes, ears, and heart. Inspire us, not with fear or shame but with faith, hope, and love. Help each of us do our part and encourage us with the certainty of your promises. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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