Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the thoughts and words of this reading that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
Hebrews 4:12-16 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
12 Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account.
Jesus the Great High Priest
14 Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested[a] as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today
People in antiquity took the power of words more seriously than we do. A word spoken had a life of its own and great power. The writer of Hebrews says that this is also the case with the divine word. It penetrates to the very heart and soul of a person and judges the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Today, when we think about the word of God, we think of scripture and when we take it seriously, we find there a rich collection of writings that challenge us, that penetrate to the core of who we are and call us to be who God calls us to be. The Bible is the record of human response to the experience of God. As such, to use the words of Hebrews, it is living and active.
The Bible was written over a period of about 900 to 1000 years by many different writers. It is such a rich book. It contains historical accounts, poetry—including a love poem, short stories, philosophy, law codes, letters, and songs. Overall, it is the story of what God has been and is doing in the lives of people. It tells us much about the nature of God, human nature and the relationship between God and humanity.
The Bible is about God and it is also about us.
Soren Kierkegaard, the Danish theologian who died in 1855, wrote about the Bible, “…remember to say to yourself incessantly: `It’s talking to me; I am the one it is speaking about.'” [For Self‑Examination, p. 39] It is that aspect of scripture that penetrates to the heart of who we are and has the power to help us see ourselves more clearly.
Like Adam and Eve, we know what it is to do something wrong and to shift blame to someone else. Like David, we know what it is like to love our son or daughter deeply. Like Paul, we know what it is like to endure hardship and find strength from God. Like the disciples, we know the joys and the challenges of community. Like the worshippers in the little synagogue of Nazareth—who tried to throw Jesus over a cliff—we know how angry it makes us sometimes to hear the truth. That’s especially true if it challenges our prejudices, our hateful attitudes or our political persuasions.
I like how Bob Benson put it:
We all have taken our turn at saying, ‘”there is no room in the inn,” and we all know what it is like to sadly reverse our paths like the rich, young ruler. We all know what it is to say, “I do not know him,” or to leave unsaid, “Yes, I am a follower of his.” We all have bravely said in stirring faith, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” and we all have felt or said, “Unless I touch the prints of his hands…I will not believe.” It is not just a book written a long time ago about some people who lived way back then. It is about us. It is not just a book about a few people to whom Jesus said, “Lo, I will never leave you.” It is to us as well that these words still speak. It was not only their sorrow he promised to turn into joy, but he was saying to us just as surely as if he were looking us in the face that the thing that seems like sorrow to us today, he would have us writing poems and singing songs about tomorrow or next week. These things were said to us and for us and about us in this living book of God.” [Bob Benson, See You at the House: The Very Best of the Stories He Used to Tell (Nashville: Generoux, 1986), 38-39]
There is a lot of theology woven into hymns. To enhance today’s reading, I recommend listening to “Jesus, Lover of My Soul”.
Jesus, lover of my soul,
let me to thy bosom fly,
while the nearer waters roll,
while the tempest still is high;
hide me, O my Savior, hide,
till the storm of life is past;
safe into the haven guide,
O receive my soul at last!
Other refuge have I none;
hangs my helpless soul on thee;
leave, ah! leave me not alone,
still support and comfort me.
All my trust on thee is stayed,
all my help from thee I bring;
cover my defenseless head
with the shadow of thy wing.
Plenteous grace with thee is found,
grace to cover all my sin;
let the healing streams abound;
make and keep me pure within.
Thou of life the fountain art;
freely let me take of thee;
spring thou up within my heart,
rise to all eternity.
I hope you will take a few moments to let the words of this message and the emotion that always connects us to music connect with your soul. I am so grateful for you, for our church, and for the Love that will see us all through this very difficult time. Please stay safe and well and we’ll be together again in spirit tomorrow morning!
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster