Friday, August 20, 2010

out in the open

Good morning friends,
This morning's reading wraps up the comparison the author has been making throughout the letter between the sacrifices and priesthood of the Law and the sacrifice and priesthood of Christ. Throughout the passage, since the author is referring all the way back to the original priestly laws in Leviticus while Israel was still wandering in the desert, he talks about a tent instead of a temple and a camp instead of the city. The line about the animals being burned outside the camp seems to suggest that even though these sacrifices sanctify the people in some way, in the end they are unclean, which is why they are burned outside the camp.

In contrast to the old sacrifices, Jesus was offered outside the city but truly sanctifies not only the people of Israel, but all who seek that forgiveness. Instead of going to the tent or temple to find cleansing the author calls us out of the city, out of our comfort zones, out of our isolated communities to suffer with Jesus. That, along with the encouragement to serve others by sharing, is a great image for evangelism and sharing. We aren't called to worship in closed tents with others like us; we are called to worship through service and witness outside the tent where those who don't know they are called will see us and find Christ's grace. So blessings to you today in your work outside the city that can give people a glimpse of God's love.

God bless,

Hebrews 13:9-17
9Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings; for it is well for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by regulations about food, which have not benefited those who observe them. 10We have an altar from which those who officiate in the tent have no right to eat. 11For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. 12Therefore Jesus also suffered outside the city gate in order to sanctify the people by his own blood. 13Let us then go to him outside the camp and bear the abuse he endured. 14For here we have no lasting city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.

15Through him, then, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name. 16Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. 17Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls and will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with sighing—for that would be harmful to you.

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