The writer of Hebrews describes two different journeys that God’s people have undertaken. One journey was from the house of slavery in Egypt to Mount Sinai. The Israelites were overwhelmed by the fiery mountain, storms, darkness, and most of all the awe-inspiring voice of God. This is an overwhelming journey, indeed!
The other journey of God’s people leads first to Mount Zion and the city of the living God, and ultimately to the heavenly Jerusalem, the collections of angels, the saints in heaven, God the divine judge, and Jesus. This is an even more overwhelming destination on a journey with God.
The writer of Hebrews preferred the latter journey. But the truth is that God has been bringing people on journeys to God’s self in different ways throughout scripture and throughout time. Only a chapter earlier in Hebrews, we heard about those heroes whose faith led them to travel and wander, conquer and retreat, flourish and suffer.
If the wisdom, love, and grace of God bring some to mountains of storm, fire, and divine voice, we say, ”Amen, praise God!” And if the wisdom, love, and grace of God bring others to mountains of communion with angels, the church triumphant in heaven, with Jesus and God, we say, ”Amen, praise God!” Either way, it is to the same God that we journey. And it is the one true God that sent the beloved Son to rescue us all from the powers of sin and death, freeing us for whatever journey God calls us to undertake.
God, as we follow you on the journeys that you call us to, remind us that we seek the same goal: to encounter you through the life, death, and resurrection of your Son, Jesus. Amen.
The readings in Jeremiah and Psalm 71 are repeated in a pair from earlier in the year (January 24–30). They describe the authors’ confidence that God has had plans for their lives since even before they were born. God similarly knows each one of us and has a calling on our lives. The reading in Hebrews gives us confidence in the permanence of the kingdom of God, to which we have access through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We are not to take this lightly; we should worship God with due respect. In a synagogue on the sabbath, Jesus teaches a lesson about mercy. When he encounters a woman in need, he places her need above religious regulations. If religious traditions trump mercy, then our priorities are out of alignment.
Read Jeremiah 1:4-10. How can you trust God to empower you to follow God’s call? How can you encourage others to live into their calling?
Read Psalm 71:1-6. How can you continually praise God as your refuge?
Read Hebrews 12:18-29. How do you discern what is required of you in praising God in the new covenant?
Read Luke 13:10-17. How do you observe the sabbath now? What sabbath practice might you start that puts God’s reign into action?
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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