Hebrews 10:24-25 - And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
A one-day business trip took me to a place where I lived and worked for a number of years. It was a bittersweet experience. There was exhilaration walking paths and entering buildings that were once so much a part of my daily life. Surprising friends and acquaintances was a great pleasure. Catching up on their lives after more than a decade was a real joy. Reliving memories of trials and triumphs was exciting.
But I left that place with sadness. Those stirred-up memories were intriguing but had me wanting more. Visiting was hurried. Many conversations were only half finished. Work and schedules interrupted the exchange of family pictures. The sharing of hopes and joys had to end long before we wanted it to.
I was also upset with myself for avoiding someone because I didn't have the time to invest even in a courteous greeting. I wanted to say more to a friend who was feeling the barbs of unjustified criticism. I was anxious to explore the future with a friend choosing retirement soon. I wanted to hear about the plans of another friend as he began a new task. I felt rushed as a former colleague shared important hopes about charting new paths for ministries to and by older people, which I had to cut short.
Sadly, I wondered is there just too little time to genuinely invest in the lives of others? Why don't we find the hours we need to be in the company of the people we care most about? We become slaves to jobs and routines and tasks to the exclusion of the joy we know when we're with families and friends.
Surely, believers in the early church had time and commitment pressures, too. There were wages to be earned, children to raise, and all the hassles of everyday life. But somehow, they found a way to get together and, praise be to God, they flourished, by the grace of God.
Then I thought of the verse above from Hebrews and found encouragement for our times. Great distances may separate us from those we care about, but we can still "stir" them up to love and good works via our shared faith in Jesus. We can encourage those who are down with letters and phone calls. We can remind our brothers and sisters in the faith that the day is drawing near when God will bring us all together.
Now that's something to talk about the next time you get together with your family and friends.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, teach us to value highly the time we have with our loved ones in this world, knowing that as You love us so are we to love others. In Your Name we pray. Amen.
From The Lutheran Layman, July 1983 issue, "Time and Memories" by Jon Suel
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