Party Like it’s 1999
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” – Hebrews 10:23-25
In an interview with Larry King, Prince spoke of his inspiration for the song 1999, “We were sitting around watching a special about 1999, and a lot of people were talking about the year and speculating on what was going to happen…and these people [who I previously thought were very optimistic] were dreading those days…So I just wanted to write something that gave hope.” Within Prince’s inspiration I hear reverberations of Hebrews. There is a desire to spur one another on in a positive direction, and a conviction that we must hold onto hope.
Hope was a lifeline for the first audience of the letter to the Hebrews. This letter was written during a time that would have felt like the end of the world. Hebrews was written around the time when Rome destroyed the Jewish temple and crushed the Jewish revolt. It was a time of chaos, death, and uncertainty. In times of great stress it is common for us to retreat inward, to close ourselves off, to circle the wagons, and to go into a self-preservation mode.
It is into this darkness that the author of Hebrews calls on the church to reach out, to reconnect, and to recommit to each other. We meet together to open our hearts to life, to one another, and to God. We gather together as a proclamation that we choose not to cower in fear but rather to live in love. When the culture tells us to look out for number one, the church calls us to love one another. Swimming against the tide of fear and anxiety is not easy. We need a community to encourage us and spur us on. We need a community to remind us that the story of God’s redemption is still being written through our lives.
The author of Hebrews calls on his community to preserve in meeting together. This call is built upon the conviction that the destruction wrought by the Roman military is not the end; it is not “The Day.” As followers of Christ, they, and we, meet together to look towards the day, God’s day of salvation.