Hebrews 10:11 And every priest stands day after day at his service, offering again and again the same sacrifices that can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, "he sat down at the right hand of God," 13 and since then has been waiting "until his enemies would be made a footstool for his feet." 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. 15 And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us, for after saying, 16 "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds," 17 he also adds, "I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more." 18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin. 19 Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
The invitation is to be in a Covenant with our Creator. This is a relationship that offers a life lived “in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” But the reality of our Christian faith is that our very human spirits do not always live up to this Covenant: our doubting thoughts seek to undermine our “full assurance”; our unfaithful hearts reveal an “evil conscience”; and our “washed with pure water” bodies wander into sin. For this reason the writer urges us to “hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering”. The best way to do this is to meet together, encouraging each other to stay faithful – provoking “one another to love and good deeds”.
Those who follow Jesus do not act alone: our faith is one of communal support and encouragement.
First Sunday in Advent
1. The Lord is Coming
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 14.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day.