Sunday, November 18, 2012
Pentecost 25 (Proper 28) Hebrews 10:11-25
And on the one hand, every priest stands according to the day 'liturgising' and many times offering sacrifices, which are not ever able to take away sin; on the other hand, This One offered one sacrifice on behalf of sins in perpetuity sat down on the right hand of God, the remainder He awaits until His enemies are placed–a footstool of His feet. For in one offering He has perfectly-completed into perpetuity those being made holy. And the Holy Spirit even testifies to us, for after the saying: "‘This–the testament which I will testify to them after those days,' says the Lord; ‘I will give my Law upon their heart, and upon their mind I will engrave them...and their sins and their lawlessness, no, I will no longer remember.'" And where there is forgiveness of these, no longer is there an offering concerning sin. Having been, then, brothers, we are bold into the entering of the holy place in the blood of Jesus, was made new to us, a recent and living pathway through the veil, that is, His flesh, and a great Chief Priest upon the house of God, may we come forward with a genuine heart in fullness of faith, hearts sprinkled from consciences of evil, and bodies washed in pure water; may we hold firm the confession of the hope unwavering, for faithful is the One Who has promised; and may we consider others into urgings of (God's) love and good works, and may we not abandon the gathering together of ourselves, just as the custom of some, but calling (them) alongside, and so much more as you see the Day approaching.
Confidence seems to be lacking nowadays. No doubt, at least some of those you voted for this month did not get elected. We are concerned about escalating conflicts in the middle east that some fear could lead to a global war. We fear an oncoming "fiscal cliff" if our nation keeps borrowing money and increasing a debt that doesn't seem like it could ever be paid back. Moral decay in the social realms where human life is devalued more and more, and chastity is all but forgotten, decreases our hope...
To this, some simply pray "Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus" as we see more and more evidence of decay in this world, and the Day approaching for the world to come. But as we await the return of Jesus from the right hand of His Father's throne above, we don't just sit down here twiddling our thumbs. Nor do we act like people who have no hope, or as those without any confidence in God. Instead, we do those things which God has given to be done among us, for the benefit of all.
The writer to the Hebrews first takes us to a picture of worship. The priests would conduct the liturgy of their day, the service of God to his people by sacrifices. Likewise, the called minister of Christ conducts the liturgy of the Divine Service to bless you this day. This liturgy is simply God's works which benefit His people. It is God's service to you today that He bless you with a triple helping of forgiveness of your sins, in both word and sacrament, from the one and only sacrifice of Jesus, for you!
For Jesus sacrificed Himself, once and for all, for you at the cross of Calvary. He gave up His life as an offering for your sins there. He is the Lamb of God slain in your place at Golgotha. Having died for you, Jesus raised Himself to life again, and ascended to the right hand of the Father to reign over you, and over the entire church in heaven and on earth. You won't see Him until He returns on the last day.
This same Jesus doesn't leave you lonesome here on earth, but comes to you in His Divine Service. When you were baptized, Jesus came then to sprinkle your heart clean and your evil conscience washed. He did this so you could come forward in worship with a genuine and true heart, one which He fills with faith. You enter this holy place, the house of God's presence because you are forgiven!
In each and every sermon, you hear that Jesus died for you, for the forgiveness of your sins! His once and for all offering for sin had taken away your lawless thoughts, words, and actions. God remembers them no more! For your sins were borne in Jesus body on the tree, where He-Who-knew-no-sins of His Own, became your sin, and suffered the death you deserved there, in your place.
No curtain is draped in this church separating you from the presence of your holy God like it was back in the Temple. The veil is torn from top to bottom as Jesus' Own flesh was pierced on the cross for you. That is why the new veil is the flesh of Jesus given to you to eat in the Lord's Supper. You enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus shed for you, which you drink for your forgiveness in Communion.
So many of God's blessings occur each Sunday here, that we ought never neglect being gathered into God's house. Instead, we walk alongside others, calling and urging them to good works of God's love.