Over the last few months, we’ve been journeying together as a church through the book of Hebrews. I’ve really enjoyed studying and speaking from different portions of the book.
On May 6, we began the journey by looking at the first three verses. In the overview of the series, I focused on the excitement of the author of Hebrews to share with us what an amazing gift Jesus is. It makes it possible for us to have a present, daily experience of God.
On May 13, we looked at Hebrews 4:12-16. What is God like? More important than whether or not God exists, our view of God is important. This section corrects two misperceptions of God, and I used two excerpts from Curt Cloninger’s “God Views” video to highlight those misperceptions as I spoke.
Hebrews 7:23-8:2 was our focus on May 20. I chose to talk about what it is that Jesus has done for us, and how in the holiness/evangelical tradition, we sometimes get too hung up in what WE do for God.
I think the most important theme of the book of Hebrews comes to a head in Hebrews 10:19-25, our passage on May 27. The whole point of life with God through Jesus Christ is so that we boldly enter God’s presence regularly and often. Here’s what I shared.
June 3, I didn’t speak. We had a man from our meeting, Andy Copeland, read the entire eleventh chapter of Hebrews from the Message, which recounts the stories of many of the heroes of the faith from the Old Testament. Then, we each took time to think about and write about the people in our lives who were our examples, our encouragers to follow God wholeheartedly. Many spoke out of the silence, celebrating the influence all of these people have had on us.
June 10 marked a turn in Hebrews and a turn in the messages. After all the deep theology of the first 11 chapters, Hebrews 12:1-3 paints the picture of throwing off the sin that so easily entangles and running the race that God has set before us. This leads to reminders about specific sins and struggles that often trip us up. That more practical addressing of our behavior became the focus on that day, and for the future messages.
Holiness is an important but confusing word, particularly among our branch of Friends. Hebrews 12:14, Romans 6:19-23, and 1 Corinthians 1:30 all use a specific Greek word for holiness, but with very different pictures that come to mind. I liked wrestling through this issue, and several told me they found June 17 helpful.
But perhaps my favorite day in a long time was this past Sunday, July 1. We looked at Hebrews 13:4, which talks about honoring marriage and keeping the marriage bed pure. I began with the idea of talking about healthy sexuality, but this time to make sure to address what that means for singles. We jumpstarted the conversation by showing Rob Bell’s video on sexuality called “Flame.” Over the past couple of weeks, I had conversations in person and over e-mail with a dozen or so singles in our community. Their wisdom moved me, and the message really broadened and grew. Most of what I shared was their words. In evangelical circles, singles have struggled with feeling like second class citizens for a long time. Sharing their experiences, advice, and wisdom felt like a really important thing to do. The responses afterward were amazing. One woman, single in her late 20’s, came up to me after the service and said, “That’s the most affirmed I’ve felt in a church service since I was a kid.” This was important.