When I was growing up, parents used a ploy to get a short reprieve from watching their kids in the lake or pool after lunch; the one-hour rule. Somehow going in the water prior to the expiration of a full 60 minutes would cause severe cramping and even death. More than an hour might be required if you had baked beans. This was silly but effective. Did anyone consult the “science” on this? Nope. Comply or die.
Looked at honestly the “pandemic” has us waiting on the seashore, afraid to put our toes back in the water. I’ve witnessed a hysteria I’ve not seen before in my 60 plus years of life. The world is gripped in fear of a virus that’s either nothing more than a head cold or a certain death sentence. It’s nothing to be trifled with, but instead of relying on “science,” perhaps it’d be better to study the statistics. The stats are in one’s favor. Really.
What’s baffling to me is to hear my fully masked and vaccinated neighbor finally emerge out of his one-year seclusion to attend an out-of-doors birthday party for our resident 90-year old, report that he and wife would love to return via their beloved RV to the Pacific Northwest, if they can get a “booster shot.”
We’ve all heard the horror stories of vents and hospitals in triage, but I’ve got a brother-in-law who was weeks in a coma on a vent who let a common cold get out of hand.
I’m not here to solve society’s dilemma with this disease, or am I denying anything, or being insensitive, but to point out the debilitating effects of the virus, real and imagined, on the church and the family. We’ve got both octogenarians and millennials sequestered at home who desperately want to be “safe and sound,” actually holding themselves hostage for endless days of their fleeting lives.
At that same party, I talked to a widow making her first maskless outing from her confinement. She’d been under orders from family members not to return to her beloved church, and now, vaccinated, she escaped unbeknownst to them, and was enjoying the fresh air and fellowship. There was a noticeable, perhaps unbridled joy in her face. But get this irony, she has survived for more than two years with advanced-stage cancer, endured chemo, and felt “ wonderful.”
It’s clearly time people to put ourselves back into the hands of a sovereign God—if this were possible—and commence living again. More importantly, commence living—not getting through this—together! Here’s my point, or the writer of Hebrews’ point:
24and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25
I ask lovingly, as if to plead with you—going from preachin’ to meddlin’—and this is predicated on churches being open (another story), how can we stimulate one another to love and good deeds on Zoom? I guess you can, but where is the “go forth” part? The Word says to not “forsake assembling together.” You might say, “but there’s a pandemic going on,” but do the stats really support the total absolute shunning of people? I’ve seen those who used to turn out the lights in church, not darken its doors for over a year! That’s surely “safe,” but according to the familiar saying, is this “sound,” or as the word means in a biblical sense, “healthy?” But I’m vulnerable!! Aren’t we all? Where’s the placing of one’s fate in the Sovereign’s hands? Where’s the trust? What are you reading or hearing these days, the world’s take, or God’s? Can you really afford to give up another year of cohabiting with your brothers and sisters in the Lord? Or worse, your family? Has your self-imposed isolation now become a habit? For you “young people,” do the stats support your fear of returning to the Body, or is it just cool to hang out in the backyard with a cup of coffee on a Sunday morning? Is your desire to protect the aged in your family more a function of your own fear that you’ll get sick (ouch) than the exercise of mature responsibility? Lastly, can a case be made, recognizing the speed of change in our once free society—just look around—that the “day is drawing near?”
13But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Hebrews 3:13
Do we not fight against an enemy capable of authoring and perpetuating a diabolical scheme that divides and separates both the church and the family? If so, are we not to seek solace and encouragement in each other “all the more!”
Some last thoughts. Our main text was written to those not shunning the assembly because of a pandemic, but because of persecution. What’s worse? Then there’s the word “stimulate.” This word means to provoke. It’s hard to get in another’s face when you’re not staring them in the eye. I guess with all the masks, that’s the best we might be able to do! Finally, the word assembly does not refer to gathering in a synagogue, or in a formal setting, but just generally, so as to accommodate somewhat for prevailing circumstances. Certainly, a home would do.
How ‘bout asking a few brothers and sisters (maybe your actual brothers and sisters) over to join you in that backyard for coffee and to break some bread? Baby steps. Believe me, its been 60 minutes!
1Let love of the brethren continue. Hebrews 13:1
[Author’s Note: My church, which can be described as a megachurch, opened back up in early August 2020 under reasonable COVID protocols. Our 20+ family resumed gathering in mass in May 2020, including the great grandparents. We’ve had couples over for dinner, had a church group Christmas party in our home, and participated in a neighborhood progressive dinner. I’ve worked only one day from home. Indeed, we live in Florida. And yes, I know people who were hospitalized and some who died.]