Provoking One Another to Love Hebrews 10:11-25 Nov. 14, 2021

When I was in seminary chapel was offered mid-morning, Monday through Friday.  I was not used to going to chapel during the week and found it a great time to get caught up on my homework.  But over time I noticed that Dr. Stirewalt, my professor who taught me Romans, attended every day.  So, one day I asked him who had forgotten more scripture than I had learned why he went to chapel Monday through Friday.

He looked at me and was quiet for a moment.  Then he answered, “Well, sometimes I go because I need a chance midmorning to spend some time with the Lord at worship, and sometimes I go because my brother might need me.”

Up to that moment I had thought going to worship was my need, and each time it was offered I had to decide how much I needed worship, and how much did I need the time to do my homework.

After Dr. Stirewalt spoke I could see no need to ever miss worship unless I was sick in my room and not going anywhere that day.

It has been that way ever since.  Even when I am on vacation most of the time, I find a place to worship God, because my brothers and sisters through baptism might need me, even if I got thinking about taking the time off that day.

What are your reasons for going to worship?  Why did you decide to worship here this morning?  Whatever your reasons you are here, you are giving support to me and everyone else present.  Thanks for coming.

Obviously, we are called to worship together because the ten commandments tell us to remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.  The Holy meal, communion, is offered every Sunday and how can I possibly stay away, unless I am out of town, or sick when the living Christ through Holy Communion is offering to all baptized who come forward to receive life, forgiveness, and salvation.

Now we have another reason; your brother or sister might need you.  Who knows what challenges each of us face during the week.  Someone near and dear to our family could well be in the hospital.  We could be here to begin to deal with the grief of a death of a member of our family.

I remember a woman; Amie Haith, who got word on Sunday morning before worship her sister in another community had died.  Before heading to that town, she needed to gather with her church family before leaving.

Every Sunday just before the worship service gets going, I ask you to tell me who needs prayer today.  While we are naming people, if there is someone in my family who needs prayer, I tell you.

I am pleased how often you check with me about my wife Ann.  She has numerous health problems.  Two attempted interventions will be attempted soon.

She has the bones in her arches that need to be shaved in an attempt to correct the problem of a bone directly dealing with a shoe every time she walks.

The second is we are suspecting that several health problems are being caused by too much spinal fluid effecting her brain.  She will soon have a procedure to discover if some of the spinal fluid needs to be drained to see if too much fluid is the problem.

I am pleased how often you check in on each other.  One family checked to see if a person who had a minor stroke needed a ride to church and then offered that ride.

But for our community to be a tight Christian family we need to get here weekly early before the worship and staying afterwards to check in on each other.  But you need to be here regularly to get known and get to know each other.

Most churches I have served, when the attendance was low on a particular Sunday people would exclaim; “Where is everybody?”  In this church if you don’t see someone you check in on them afterwards, and if they are going through a difficult moment you pray with them and then call me to alert me to the need for some pastoral care.  Keep up the good work.

The second week of December we will be having our Annual Meeting to elect members of Council and decide on the church budget for 2022.

I have been asking us to pray for each other as Christ’s family every day in the hopes that when we meet, we will meet like a family attempting to discern who God wants us to call to serve as leaders of this family and discern what can our spending plan for next year be.

If you are wondering how important it is to gather just remember what it was like on October 24.  After celebrating Reformation Sunday, we had an Octoberfest celebration.  I certainly enjoyed that you sang Happy Birthday to two of us.  We had a great day, and we experienced our largest attendance of 2021.  There were 45 people in the building that day.

All of these things strongly encourages us to look out for each other and other needs in the High Point Community.  This is the heart of what the writer of our Hebrews lesson for today was talking about when he said:

“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.”

Some folks think of the Day that is coming is the end of the world as we know it.  The older I get the more I think of that Day coming, my own death.  I believe our gathering together for worship and fellowship and encouraging good deeds will serve us in good season when we meet the Lord face to face.

Let’s keep on looking out for each other and provoking good deeds.  Amen.