A minyan in Judaism is the minimum of ten people required to conduct a public prayer service. “Why ten?” you might ask.
When God told Abraham he was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because of the outcry against them and their terrible, plentiful sins Abraham negotiated with God, saying:
"What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”
Agreeing with Abraham that His reputation as a just God would be on the line if the collateral damage of flattening the cities involved killing fifty righteous citizens, God said he would nix the plan for the sake of fifty, good people. Abraham then goes on to ask if God would spare the city for forty righteous people, to which God agrees. Abraham keeps decreasing the number of righteous people God would spare a whole city to save until he gets the number ten. God agrees to spare the cities for ten but then He’s done haggling. Poor Sodom and Gomorrah apparently can’t even produce enough good people to hit a double digit population and as a result they get what they have coming.
For this reason, Judaism mantains ten righteous people can save a city and that’s why ten are needed to form a minyan for prayer.
Last week with only four people gathered in the sanctuary of Grace five minutes before a prayer service was scheduled to begin, I turned to a friend and said it looked unlikely that we’d wind up with a minyan. She told me not to worry about it because Jesus said “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:20
This was the first time it occurred to me that Jesus is like the Crazy Eddie’s Bargain Basement of salvation. Knowing that ten righteous people is still a pretty tall order for the likes of us, in essence Jesus says, “Whether you’re righteous or not, if even two of you can show up for each other in my name I’ll take it from there.”
Bishop Desmond Tutu once said, “We may be surprised at the people we find in heaven. God has a soft spot for sinners. His standards are quite low.”
For our sake, God has sunk to a new low through Christ. In a nutshell, after the Alleluia Chorus is over, the Easter lilies are gone and the chocolate bunnies are all eaten, I guess that’s the lasting Good News of Easter.
Your sister in Christ,