Tuesday 27 October 2015

Bible Book:

“Christ did not enter a sanctuary made by human hands, a mere copy of the true one, but he entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.” (v. 24)

Hebrews 9:15, 24-28 Tuesday 27 October 2015

Psalm: Psalm 118:19-29


Occasionally artists produce strikingimages and sounds, the like of which have never been known before.But artists also cite images or turns of phrase from theirpredecessors or from the world around us. Often quotations areinterpreted or developed, not simply repeated. Through thesetechniques artists stretch their imaginations and ours, in a searchfor truth and authenticity.

The author of Hebrews saw the Jewish scripturesas a mine of rich images needing to be recovered or re-minted tomake the Christian message compelling. Their core mission was tospell out how, in Christ, a new era had begun in relations betweenGod and humanity. For example:

A familiar image fulfilled. A 'new covenant' (seeJeremiah 31:31-34) has been launched. The'first' (or old) covenant was established at Mt Sinai, where Israelreceived God's promise of life through their obedience of the Law.In the new covenant, God promises redemption (full and freeforgiveness) and an "eternal inheritance", for "those who arecalled" (v. 15).

An image stretched almost to breaking point.Christians have Christ (like a high priest) as their permanentrepresentative in heaven (an eternal holy shrine), speaking andpraying to God for us, "on our behalf". But Christ has this role byvirtue of one historical moment: his death on the cross, which wasa unique and sufficient achievement to deal for ever with thedepths of human sin. Christ is both sacrifice and high priest.

An image expanded to a new conclusion. The highpriest annually, on the Day of Atonement, offered sacrifice, insecret. Outside, the people waited expectantly for him to emerge.This would confirm their cleansing. They welcomed him back withacclaim. So Christ will appear "a second time" (v. 28) "to save" -to transfer the redeemed people of the new covenant on earth tojoin the praise of God in heaven.

To Ponder

  • What painting, poem, sculpture, piece of music or any other artform fires your Christian imagination? How? Have you shared thiswith other members of your congregation; and given attention towhat inspires them?
  • In Christian worship the cross holds central place.  How,in your experience, is this most meaningfully presented, in wordsand signs?
  • How does your congregation express in practical ways what itmeans to be 'people of the new covenant'?
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