Regulations for sacrifices and offerings fill the Old Testament. How can the author of Hebrews say, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired”? The Bible I am reading lists Psalm 40:6 as a cross-reference for this verse in Hebrews. Indeed the two verses are almost identical. The tradition of the Old Testament prophets is that of calling out to Israel, saying God desires more than ritual observance. Samuel, Isaiah, Amos, Hosea, and others all speak out against those who concern themselves only with rote observance of the Old Testament offerings and sacrifices. These prophets call for social justice alongside ritual observance of the law.
But there is more to this statement in Hebrews than the Psalms and the prophets. Jesus also uses this idea that God desires more than rote observance of the law to defend his ministry. Indeed the author of Hebrews places these words on Jesus’ lips: “Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, ‘Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me.’”
The point of this passage is not to disparage the offerings and sacrifices. The author is trying to remind us that God’s true desire is the living out of God’s will in our lives. So Jesus comes in a human body to live out God’s will among us. Through his life of obedience, Jesus brings to us the gift of holiness that we too may live according to God’s will.
God surprises us with the gift of holiness when God visits us in Jesus.

God, give me grace to live your will today. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Luke 1:39-55

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Lectionary Week
December 17–23, 2018
Scripture Overview

As Christians we understand that our faith is rooted in the ongoing story of God’s faithfulness to God’s people. Micah celebrates this story, prophesying that the true king of Israel will one day come from the small village of Bethlehem, Jesus’ birthplace. Luke features women prominently throughout his Gospel. The two readings from Luke this week highlight the prophetic insights of Elizabeth and Mary. Mary visits Elizabeth, who is pregnant with John, God’s messenger. After Elizabeth identifies Mary as the mother of the Lord, Mary breaks into song, understanding that her story is tied to the fulfillment of God’s promises going back to Abraham. Little does she know that her son will one day offer his body as a sacrifice for all, as Hebrews tells us.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

• Read Micah 5:2-5a. What “small” beginnings have yielded great results in your life?
• Read Psalm 80:1-7. How does this psalm of lament speak to you? When has God restored you and shone the light of divine love on you?
• Read Hebrews 10:5-10. What do you believe God desires from you? In what ways does Jesus’ life of obedience help you understand God’s intention for you and the world?
• Read Luke 1:39-55. When have you been stopped in your tracks by meeting unexpectedly an old acquaintance? How did God speak to you in that encounter?

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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