Thursday of Pentecost 20 – Hebrews 3:12-19

12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. 15 As it is said,

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

16 For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? 17 And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19 So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.

So much had changed in Gary’s neighborhood. The old couple, his friends, had moved out. New owners had torn down their house and put up five slapped-together condo units. A procession of renters had moved in and out. There was this one gal, she was OK, but her son was a bit odd. She said he was on the spectrum. Gary wasn’t quite sure what that meant. Now the faces were growing darker, and the trash cans were overflowing. Gary noticed the trash cans. For decades he had picked up cans by the hundreds and thousands and dumped their contents into the back end of a truck. He had been a garbage man. That was before the mechanical arms had come along which picked the cans up and dumped them into the truck. In his day, it was muscle power that got the garbage collected so it could be hauled off. Now, his back was twisted and painful from years of heaving and hauling other people’s garbage. He looked at the overflowing cans and muttered, unconsciously estimating just how much each one would weigh.

One spring day he saw a well-dressed young man come up and nervously knock on the door of one of those condos. He held a corsage in his hand, safely kept in a clear plastic box. The mother who answered the door beamed at him and soon he saw her daughter and the young man on the front step, looking uncomfortable in their fancy clothes, having their photo taken. Gary’s mind was flooded with memories. Memories of his own courtship and marriage, memories of nights when young men came to bring his daughters to dances and dates. He looked at the calendar, it was about right the time of the year. It must be prom night.

He called across the street to the family to hold up for a minute. He hobbled over to his garage and opened the door to the bay where he stored his beloved and lovingly restored 1954 Plymouth. He eased it out and across the street. The eyes of the young couple widened. Gary smiled. Their pictures should be special, he said. They spent a good half hour posing around and in his car. They thanked him. He thanked them. He wrote down the mom’s name as soon as he got in the house. He would remember her name. The writer to the Hebrews urges us not to be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. It is so easy to let categories guide our behavior toward another. Sin would deceive us into passing judgments which have no bases in fact. Don’t listen to that, says this text. Rather trust in Jesus. He has died for all and therefore all are His. Believe Him and obey Him.

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