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Sunday, January 19, 2014
Scripture Reading: Hebrews 10:19–25
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 saw the movie Dead Man Walking four times. During that time in my life, my kids would make fun of my fascination with the movie and at random moments would suggest, “Mom, I’ve got an idea: Why don’t you go see Dead Man Walking!” I was taken with the story of Sister Helen Prejean and her courageous, faithful engagement with Matthew Poncelet, sentenced to death.
Toward the end of the movie, Sister Prejean makes one of her many visits to Matthew in his prison cell and he finally confesses to his crime, with tears and remorse for the first time. Sister Prejean tells him, “Matthew, you are a son of God.” He looks at her with surprise but also with the innocence of a child and says something like, “I am? I’ve never been no son of God before.” And again he cries.
It was this scene that came to mind when I read the words of Hebrews “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.” Somehow in Matthew’s truth-telling and through his tears, his heart was sprinkled clean from an evil conscience, his body washed with pure water.
It is a great gift we have been given—the ability to approach God directly in our prayer lives, to be honest about our sins and failings, knowing that somehow in the mystery of faith, our hearts are sprinkled clean and our bodies are washed with pure water. Matthew needed another person to help him make that approach. Sometimes we have that need, too. But alone, or with another, the assurance is there: You are a daughter of God. You are a son of God. You are loved.
Great God, help me to approach you and to approach you with honesty. Give me courage in my prayers. And most of all, thank you for those times when I am reminded that I am your child. Thank you for those times when that realization takes my breath away. Amen.
Written by Judith L. Watt, Associate Pastor for Pastoral Care
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