Tuesday 24th November Hebrews – Motives for Perseverance
Hebrews 10: 32 – 39
But recall those earlier days when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to abuse and persecution, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion for those who were in prison, and you cheerfully accepted the plundering of your possessions, knowing that you yourselves possessed something better and more lasting. Do not, therefore, abandon that confidence of yours; it brings a great reward. For you need endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. For yet ‘in a very little while, the one who is coming will come and will not delay; but my righteous one will live by faith. My soul takes no pleasure in anyone who shrinks back.’
But we are not among those who shrink back and so are lost, but among those who have faith and so are saved.
Remembering the bad old days – or were they good old days? It rather depends what exactly we dwell on when we remember. My father had lifelong memories of his ten years in the Army (1910 – 1920) when, having been badly wounded in 1916, he spent several years in a POW camp in dire conditions, and suffered for the rest of his life. World War I had been a terrible experience, yet one he would not have missed. He told its stories and sang its songs with humour and a sense of gratitude that he had survived, and was glad to be able to work and keep his family.
As I read this passage, my first thought was that the “bad old days” lived by the Hebrew Christians were not so different from my father’s experience. Nor indeed were they unlike the continuing experience of people today who suffer “public abuse and persecution” (and sometimes prosecution) because of the colour of their skin or their faith or their sexual orientation – or because of their determination to convince governments of the reality of climate change – or who campaign for prison reform, for safe working conditions, for a fair Benefits system or affordable housing … All these are long-term projects, part of the ongoing Christian commitment to the kingly rule of Christ. They need people of compassion and generosity, confidence and endurance … and, most of all, people of faith and hope and love. So that all will be able to say with the writer of Hebrews,
We are not among those who shrink back and so are lost, but among those who have faith and so are saved.
God of Love and Justice and Hope give us clear vision to see the needs around us; make us quick to hear the weeping of the world and ready to offer your healing and comfort. Let us never shrink back from your call to Love, but keep us ever faithful to know and to share your salvation. Amen
Heather Pencavel, retired Minister (Workplace Chaplain), member of Thornbury URC