“And every priest stands day after day at his service, offering again and again the same sacrifices that can never take away sins.” (Hebrews 10:11)
In case you had forgotten, beloved reader, I wanted to remind you that the writer of Hebrews is writing to the Jews Christians to explain to them the Christian faith, as the writer of Hebrews understands it; and how it interrelates to the Jewish faith. This part of the reason that the writer of Hebrews (often attributed to Paul) makes use of the “high priest” motif.
“But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, “he sat down at the right hand of God,” and since then has been waiting “until his enemies would be made a footstool for his feet.” For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.” (Verses 12-14)
The Revised Common Lectionary citation does not make use of verses 15 to 18 which outlines God’s intention, through the Holy Spirit, for how the Lord’s followers would be reminded of the covenant with God. It is a small break from the “high priest” motif, and perhaps that is why it is not included. Or maybe the architects of the RCL wanted to keep the passage shorter and felt these verses could be set aside for brevity sake.
(“And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us, for after saying, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds,” he also adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.”)
It is significant though in light of the theme for this lectionary year, renewal and recommitment because the actions of the Holy Spirit are a call and a reminder of God’s intentions.
“Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Verses 19 to 25)
I want to highlight what Paul is saying, in light of this year’s theme. Let us approach the Divine with confidence and surety that we are saved and valued. Let us remember our confession of faith, the way we first believed in the newness of faith. Our beliefs and understandings may have matured, and we may be believers with a wider and deeper faith; but our promise and commitment to God should not change. And let us encourage one another to life an authentic and accountable Christian life.
These are good things to remember. It is good for you, and it is good for me too . . . as I consider new plans and ventures in the coming year. I was reminded just today (the day I wrote this) of what it means to follow God’s plan for one’s life as we understand it. I asked God to send me a sign or a nudge as to what God would have me do and what my plans for the coming year should be. Instead God sent me a kick in the rear and a wake up call to take seriously planning and to start thinking through now what needs to be done in the future. I was also sent a reminder of how far I have journeyed in the last seven years; and throughout that journey I have trusted in God, and that trust has not failed me. But I was also reminded that I might not know or see what may come. And furthermore, I was reminded that what is in the past can come around to the present, and that I have to trust that to God also. It was, beloved reader, a day of many reminders and revelations. I know I need to sit with them, and then let God lead. I suspect, and hope, that scriptures in the coming days will help me with that.
May our Lord God with you; remember that while Christ has made the single sacrifice that is needed in your life, it continues to inform your life and ever change into the person God desires and has destined you to be. Selah!