"Avengers Assemble!" is one of the most iconic phrases from Marvel. Thor first used it in the 1960's comics, and then Captain America started to say it in Ultron, but it finally came out in "Endgame." Captain America is discouraged and nearly defeated as he looks upon the mounting armies of Thanos. At just the right time, the interdimensional portals are opened, and the Avengers and allies come from Wakanda to fight along his side. In that moment, when an all-star team of superheroes comes together to encourage the discouraged and face the common enemy, we are elated and rallied. Even if we know it's pretend, there still is something epic in this we all love.
When we come to reality, the scriptures tell us there is something truly special and otherworldly when the church assembles. This is the "when you come together" time Paul regularly addresses in the epistles. Assembly...Assemble!
Last month this was our Memory verse at LCC.
"And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet 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 ESV
Often this text is applied to encourage regular church attendance, and it rightly does. However, the context points us to the positive command before the negative prohibition.
Seek to encourage and "stir up" one another. How is this done? First, by avoiding the negative "don't neglect to gather" and second, the positive "exhorting" or "encouraging one another." There's also an eschatological underpinning. "And so much the more as you see the day approaching." I find this interesting, especially in that our American evangelical church culture seems to encourage less frequency not just of church attendance but of the actual church services themselves (but that's for another discussion ;-).
How would it change your mindset on a Lord's Day morning to "consider" how you are planning to encourage your brothers and sisters that day? This text teaches that this encouragement mindset is one of the purposes of our gatherings. We come not for what we can get but for what we give, and we can all give encouragement.
As an example, recently, I was speaking with a church leader, and they shared with me their experience on a Sunday of having several separate conversations, all of which was a complaint about something in the church. I'm sure each of them didn't realize the same about the others and that each of the issues was significant to them and may have needed to be addressed at some point (though perhaps not on Sunday AM). However, as a whole, they created a culture of complaint at a "when you come together" time rather than a culture of encouragement.
That leader left that day discouraged and beaten down like Cap before Thanos' army of the Black Order and Outriders. Many of our brothers and sisters come to our gatherings after a wearisome week in a similar discouraging way.
How would the culture of our "when you come together" times change if what we "considered" as we came to the gathering was how we could encourage our brothers and sisters rather than complain? By God's grace, this coming Lord's Day, let us "consider" how we can "encourage one another." Let's be the ones that rally together "when we come together" to encourage the discouraged and face the common enemy for the common cause. "Assembly...Assemble!"