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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Hebrews 10:11–14, 15–18, 19–25                   

And every priest stands day after day at his service, offering again and again the same sacrifices that can never take away sins. 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. 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.

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. (NRSV)

I confess I am the kind of person who easily winces at the sight of a needle. And blood makes me squeamish. To see blood is to be confronted with human frailty and the experience of bodily pain. But blood can also be a sign of life. In the biblical witness, blood is often a symbol of purification and health. To give blood is to move it from lifelessness to life from a corpse to a living, breathing body. So it is in this passage from Hebrews that points us to the sacrificial love of God through the work of Christ as the great priest over the house of God. It is the blood of Jesus, given in love, that points us to a new and living way.

What is this new life that flows from Jesus through Christian community like blood through a body? Jeremiah describes it evocatively as the experience of a new covenant. It is a way of living deeply into the promises made in the covenant God made with Abraham and Sarah as well as the Israelites. It is intimacy with God marked by forgiveness. While the prophecy of Jeremiah and the work of Christ often point to a future time, we can experience that covenantal love in God even now. We also share that love in the work of provoking each other to acts of faithfulness and love when we are fully present to one another. How are you letting the love of Christ flow through your life on this day?

God of covenantal love, thank you for the promises and for the gift of life and redemption. Like blood flows through the body, let Christ dwell within us, placing your way upon our hearts and sharing your grace with our neighbors. Amen.

Written by Joseph L. Morrow, Minister for Evangelism

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