Narrative Lectionary Hebrews Week 3
Additional Resources for Study & Proclamation
Hebrews 4:14--5:10 (Matt 26:36-40)
Jesus Always Got Full Bars
Furthering the Power of God’s Story – Narrative Lectionary Commentary
by Pastor Ron Valadez
Pastor’s today are more accessible than at any other time in history, thanks in large part to technology, specifically the cell phone. I don’t even have to post office hours any longer! People just know that I’m available whenever they need me. This has led many pastors to a whole new set of boundary challenges. Maintaining personal free time, self-care time, family time, etc. can be a little tricky, not impossible, but tricky. There is something freeing about it though, not having to be tied to a particular location to maintain accessibility. In addition to working at my office, I can also work from home, or at a coffee shop, wherever it is that helps me use my time as efficiently as possible. But this leads to a whole new set of boundaries—boundaries with myself. I have to maintain discipline to keep from getting sidetracked, fight procrastination, stay focused, etc. I’ve noticed other fields of work jumping on this accessibility bandwagon as well. Doctors are now available to video chat with you! Counselors can “meet” with you over the phone! Heck, you can even get a dog walker to your front door using an app! Accessibility is all the rage today.
You know who’s even more accessible? You guessed it, Jesus! Our author continues to romp through Jesus’ amazingness in this week’s reading by pointing to Jesus’ accessibility. And what makes Jesus so accessible? In addition to what we’ve already learned the past two weeks, that Jesus has always been and is yet one of us, our author also points to other characteristics that make Jesus so available for us: Jesus is God’s chosen child; has passed through heaven; can sympathize with our weakness; and was tempted like us.
But the biggest reason for our author was the fact that Jesus was ordained a high priest by God. And not just a high priest, the high priest. It’s easy for the significance of this to be lost on modern ears, especially protestant ones. Pastors just don’t have the same role as a priest does, especially a high priest. So it may take some time to help your listeners to appreciate this. However, I recommend that you take the time because this was a crucial point for this author. Jesus’ role as high priest will be a topic that our author will return to again. The whole of chapter seven is dedicated to it!
The biggest challenge, will be for us to take our protestant hats off for a minute. The author dives deep into Jesus’ priestly nature and in order for us to follow, we have to lay aside our aversion to all things “priestly.” Like a priest, Jesus offers a sacrifice on our behalf. However, Jesus adds a twist to this equation. The sacrifice that Jesus offers is Jesus’ very self. Now, that can mean different things depending on your and your congregation’s soteriology. Please note, it does not have to mean substitutionary atonement. Also note, that unless you say otherwise, substitutionary atonement will probably be your listener’s default assumption. If you’re ok with that, say no more. If not, this would be a good opportunity to give them other soteriological options.
A quick note about Melchizedek, though important to our author, it’s debatable how fruitful Melchizedek would be for proclamation purposes. It’d make a great Bible study for sure! If you feel like you have to say something about it, then don’t do so without reading and researching chapter seven!
As the high priest, Jesus can become even more accessible than the most accessible human pastor or priest! Think of Jesus as having a special toll free number that never has a busy signal! Or Jesus having a special cell phone that never loses a signal and never goes to voicemail! Or video chatting with Jesus without the screen ever freezing! I think you get the picture.
Some application questions: How accessible do we make ourselves at church? Do all feel like we are available to them? Might there be groups that don’t feel this accessibility? If so, why? How can we do better?
Quick Jump Menu
The following links and resources are not produced or maintained by Clergy Stuff. However, at the time of this posting, the links were active and considered to be good source material for proclamation for the text for this week. Please scroll down or click on the quick jump menu you find below. For more free worship resources & planning materials, please visit RCL Worship Resources, a sister-site of Clergy Stuff.
In addition to the plethora of resources that you can find on sites like textweek.com, here are a few more to help ignite your imagination. Some old, some new, and some are a bit outside the box, but when your struggling with direction, sometimes a different approach is all that’s needed.
Empathy and Silence: Being Available to Others in Times of Crisis—Practical examples of how we can present and available for others in their time of need.
Theories on the Atonement—An insightful conversation with theologian Tony Jones on Doug Pagitt Radio.
I’ll Be There—Written by Berry Gordy, Hal Davis, Bob West, and Willie Hutch, the lyrics can surprisingly be interpreted with a spiritual tone.
A Good Read
Free Dramatic Reading For This Text (NRSV)
Readers: Reader, Congregation
Reader: 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.
Congregation: 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 as we are, yet without sin.
Reader: 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.
Congregation: Every high priest chosen from among mortals is put in charge of things pertaining to God on their behalf, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.
Reader: He is able to deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is subject to weakness; and because of this he must offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of the people.
Congregation: And one does not presume to take this honor, but takes it only when called by God, just as Aaron was.
Reader: So also Christ did not glorify himself in becoming a high priest, but was appointed by the one who said to him,
Congregation: “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”;
Reader: as he says also in another place,
Congregation: “You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.”
Reader: In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.
Congregation: Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, having been designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.