In Old Testament times, the high priest entered the Holy of Holies once a year to offer atonement for Israel’s sins. The high priest readied himself for the extensive liturgy and performance of rituals. The ceremony involved multiple changes of clothes. The priestly garb included bells on its hem that tinkled with movement as the priest ministered in the holy place. Can you imagine the priestly ranks trembling in rapt attention, listening for the faint sound of bells while they await the conclusion of the rituals? Or the tense silence when they hear nothing and the sigh of relief as the tinkling draws near?
Today’s reading continues the contrast between earthly high priests and Christ as high priest. They stand “day after day,” while Christ sits, having completed his redeeming and sanctifying work. Verses 11-14 remind us of Jesus’ sacrifice for us, we who are unholy and unworthy, a sacrifice that bolsters our confidence to enter God’s presence without fear. Jesus—both in sacrifice and as high priest—in his death on the cross became for us the blood sprinkled on the altar to atone for our sins. That atonement is not just for today but also for the sins of our past and our future. We no longer require ritual sacrifices because God remembers our sins “no more.”
Jesus Christ assures us that the One who mediates for us is holy and without blemish, the One who has conquered death. We can come freely to the Father because of the Son. We look to Jesus the high priest through whom we have unlimited access to God.

Jesus, thank you for paying the price so I can enjoy God’s presence without fear. Forgive me for the times I have forgotten the value of your sacrifice. May I express my gratitude daily and treat your gift with utmost humility. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Mark 13:1-8

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Lectionary Week
November 12–18, 2018
Scripture Overview

The inability to have a child brings pain to many today, and this was equally true in ancient times. In that context it was sometimes even worse, for Peninnah openly ridicules Hannah for being unable to conceive. But as a result of her desperate, heartfelt prayer, God blesses Hannah with a son, Samuel, who will become a powerful prophet. Hannah then rejoices in a God who exalts the poor and needy. Hannah provides an example of the boldness with which we also can approach God now because of Christ’s sacrifice. The destruction of Jerusalem is the focus of the passage in Mark. Jesus here predicts the demolition of the Temple and the city, which the Romans executed in 70 ce.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

• Read 1 Samuel 1:4-20. When have you felt trapped by circumstances not of your own making? How did the situation resolve itself?
• Read 1 Samuel 2:1-10. When has a situation in your life changed because you persisted in prayer? What did that experience teach you?
• Read Hebrews 10:11-25. Do you perceive God’s remembering your sin no more as encouragement or license? Why?
• Read Mark 13:1-8. What signs make you anxious about the world’s future? What helps you rest easier?

Respond by posting a prayer.

I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.” 

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