One could say, Life is full of change , I have often heard it said “change is here to stay” have you? As you look into your own world, family, work, relationship worlds, in this coming year I am sure its looking at great change, due to the pandemic and enforced circumstances maybe, I don’t think that there is any part pf our world individually or collectively that is not going to be thrust into change. We are all wondering what will life, what will business, what will church, what will relationship look like.
Change for the better, I pray so?
The winter nights have been drawing in on us in the northern hemisphere, nights certainly getting longer and longer. The UK is in another night, now in its second lockdown due to COVID-19 and I think all are longing for the enforced lockdowns to end. The latest debate now rising is in regard to vaccinations, should I be vaccinated or should I not has become a question and debate. Recently I was sent a story dated form the 60’s for 70’s of a mass vaccination programme that would wipe out large numbers of humanity, I now hear the same fear form some. O well change, trust seems it is the preferred way of our day.
As we are pressed into the necessity of change the commodity required for all is a measure of trust, however Trust appears to be it under attack and in short supply. Trust, faith, belief, holding on, all these necessary attitudes have been eroded for many.
So where can I find trust? certainly not in world politics, what ever country I live in. I see it being eroded in some neighbourhoods with one neighbour keeping watch on other neighbours for lockdown violations. What a change, as in the early days of lockdown we were finding one another in streets and cul- de- sac’s. Neither do I think religion holds fast. So where in relationships trust is built and can be found strong and true.
Our relationships with one another are more valuable that ever. I said recently that relationships are our schools of love education. Relationships. This really is the true foundation of the scriptures narratives of relationships. Relationship gains and losses along with recoveries.
Is this not our gospel? when humanity lost its relationship, lost relationship with the creators – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Is not the scripture multiple stories of how we, humanity and creation regain their relationship with God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit? A very radical story of regains, recovery, restoring relationship with the Divine, with one another and with creation.
A story of where to discover this foundational relationship.
A request was made of me recently to consider the view we have of Jesus as our High Priest and the impact on us. Hebrews 4:14 – 16 says,
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.
15 For we do not have aa high priest who cannot sympathise with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.
16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
If this is good news, how can I grasp the changes that this has for brought for all creation.
How is this term reflected in our religious view, it heralds a change from a religious pattern to a relationship. This change has brought a life that is much more than a chief religious functionary entering a inner sanctum (Holy of Holies) annually (Day of Atonement) just to burn incense and sprinkle animal blood, its a huge change a new law a new priesthood although eternal and ancient, much older than Levitocal but a new one for us.
We are also told in Hebrews 7:12 For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed as well. Here we are again CHANGE is brought in, in relation to Jesus. The priesthood changed from OT levitical and its laws to a new priesthood and law. The Hebrew letter calls this change BETTER in every respect, “Better” it is a key word that occurs thirteen times in this book, emphasising the heart of Hebrews that the way of Jesus Christ is so much better! CHANGE!
Why in our Christian faith do we try to bring old ways, old priestly ways that Christ did away with, ALL of them and fulfilled them when Christ brought a better and a new priesthood and law, the law of the Spirit which is life.
I could open up and give more time to the order of priesthood that Christ now functions through, Melchizedek and did so before creation spoken, however another day perhaps.
Jesus changed everything towards creation including humanity, Jesus made it clear that salvation and the kingdom of God are centred, not in a temple, but at a TABLE.
Announcing that we have a place at the Table God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit had brought about a place to sit and be accepted.
Jesus relocated the holy of holies from a veiled chamber reserved for a solitary high priest, to a shared table to which all are invited.
This change setter, this Jesus overturned money-changing tables in the temple, but set up banqueting tables in his Father’s house.
We forget some times it’s not worship settings or meetings, as good as they might be to enable humanities desire to celebrate, it’s not buildings, it’s not anything grand but an accepting dinning table of welcome, even before our enemies.
One cannot but see that through the process of Levitical and temple priesthood ways in its process built a concept of holiness was one of ever smaller and ever holier concentric circles.
Holiness had become something to work at rather than being the gift of God “be holy as I am”. Quite often presented as a demand, a command, however, In 1 Peter 1:16, it says, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” – it is no small thing. We are called to be like God, just as God is, we are to be. Living out this gift of holiness.
Within the temple of Old Testament were increasing levels of holiness with corresponding restrictedness. A Jewish court where Gentiles were prohibited a male court with women prohibited. A court only for priests and no one else allowed. Then there was holy of holies where only the high priest could enter, and even then only once a year. Holiness was something to be protected from you and me.
But Jesus changed all of that. Jesus reversed the concept of what is acceptable, life came from our life giver when Jesus touched lack, or even the unclean, Jesus was not affected but that who or which he touched was made whole and changed!
THIS IS OUR HIGH PRIEST
During Jesus’ ministry all were given unfettered access to the holiest of all. You have been invited to the table to dip bread in the same bowl with God? What is more radical and change bringing!
The generosity and hospitality of God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit, God is desiring to share proactively willing and enabling all creation which includes you and me, sharing his table with anyone. Especially with YOU what ever condition, where ever you have come from – origin, education, culture, gender.
Instead of being restricted to a particular geography and limited to a priestly elite, the Christian holy of holies can be located anywhere and everywhere. The Lord’s Table bears witness to the new covenant truth that the holy land is the whole earth and the chosen people are the human race.
Our hight prices has taken humanity right into the full presence of God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. That is absolutely crucial, and when we lose that, we lose something fundamental.
Jesus, in fulfilling the office of our High Priest, got dressed in a garment, and that garment was our flesh.
Jesus, dressed in our humanity, carried the names of the people over his heart, Jesus, in wearing our flesh, wrote the name of all humanity into himself.
It was not to temple but in the cross and resurrection our eternal priest in death followed in resurrection ascended, in his ascension he took humanity into the Divine courts and before God, we have died raise and are seated with him.
What has changed I can now approach God with great boldness, as Christ knows our humanity in fullness. All of us, our awkwardness, our bent shape, even my brokenness have found a place at the table. Let’s make our gatherings a Table not a performance.
Let us therefore draw near (προσερχωμεθα οὐν [proserchōmetha oun]). Present active middle volitive subjunctive of προσερχομαι [proserchomai]. “Let us keep on coming to” our high priest.
Change has come, it is out let us make Tables in our life style not performance, or ego but tables where all are welcomed and feed. Having this attitude, keep coming, as change has arrived, it will never stop changing us, and creation until the fullness of Chirst is in and through it all.