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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Hebrews 7:23–28

Furthermore, the former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office; but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently he is able for all time to save those who approach God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, blameless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he has no need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for those of the people; this he did once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests those who are subject to weakness, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever. (NRSV)

This little passage is kind of a can of worms. It talks about Jesus as a special kind of priest, and it talks about Jesus making intercession with God for us. Which is all well and good, until you realize that it kind of sounds like Jesus, because he’s between us and God, is actually under God. Like, subordinate. Which was a bit of a theological problem way back when the early church was trying to understand the nature of the whole God relationship.

The question of whether Jesus was God or was sent by God was a really big-deal question among the ancient Christian hierarchy. So at the Council of Nicaea, they hashed it all out, throwing around words like homoousian and homoiousian and homoian and heteroousian (not to mention heresy), and arguing about whether Arius or Athanasius was the biggest jerk.

Out of that came the Nicene Creed and the acceptance of the Schrodinger’s Cat of Christian theology—the Trinity: God the Father and Jesus the Son, who are really the same so Jesus is his own father and God is his own son, along with the Holy Spirit, who was sent by God after Jesus, but is also the same as God, so it’s like God is sending God after sending God, but God’s indivisible, so . . . yeah. Makes the whole physics problem of a cat being alive and dead at the same time seem fairly straightforward.

The Trinity is hard. And I’m not one to try to explain it. It will just make your brain hurt, and you’ll wind up more confused than when you started.

Which may just be part of the point. The nature of God resists sorting out. The more we try to grasp, the more we miss. So God gives us this little kōan to break our brains and help us to get that it’s all God. The opposite of faith is certainty, after all, so being a little uncertain, a little confused, well, that’s a good start.

Lord, we love to break things down to try to know and understand them. Often it is just impossible to understand. Let us find in those moments the beginnings of faith. Amen.

Written by Rob Koon, Coordinator of Fine Arts

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