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9 Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. 10 For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. 11 Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? 12 And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.
–Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

The bread pictured is challah (pronounced “hall-ah”), a traditional Jewish bread, which is often shaped in a braid of three, four, or six strands.  Mine, as you see, is three, because six is completely beyond my bread-braiding abilities.*

This is a very meaningful scripture for me.  My husband and I had my brother read it at our wedding.  Like many verses in Ecclesiastes, one of my favorite books of the Bible, it has both a purely practical physical meaning, and a deeper spiritual meaning.

Whatever work we are doing, whether it is building a fence or putting on a vacation Bible school, having work-mates helps us get more done, both because more hands can do more work, and because having someone to encourage us, joke with us, and even compete with us (in a friendly way) spurs us on to greater productivity.

When things are hard and the world is cold, the encouragement of godly friends reminds us that we are not alone, and warms our hearts and spirits.  This can literally be a lifesaver.

Most important, I think, is the last verse.  We have an adversary, the devil, who prowls like a roaring lion (I Peter 5:8).  He is the father of lies (John 8:44) and it can be hard to resist all those lies alone, but with the encouragement and companionship of someone who is also resisting those same lies, we are not easily broken.

I am thankful every day for a husband who shares my faith and can help me be more Christ-like.  But the same benefits of companionship and mutually beneficial friendship can be found outside of marriage (after all, the verse in Ecclesiastes is talking about a platonic friendship), in the Church.  The unity of the Church and time spent in fellowship as often as possible helps keep our cords unbroken.
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* In an admittedly short time spent doing Internet research on why Jewish challah is braided, I found several explanations of what the three, four, or six strands might represent, none of which involved this passage from Ecclesiastes.

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