10th After Trinity : Neil Brice

Sermon For Trinity 10

Lerwick 2019 Yr C

Last week we were told to come to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith who disregarded the shame of the cross to be raised to God.

This week we are urged to come to Jesus the mediator of a new promise.

The writer to the epistle to the Hebrews seems to have in the background of all that he writes the Temple in Jerusalem and the sacrifice that took place there. A sacrifice that was seen to be repeated over and over.

The Temple in Jerusalem was seen to be the very gateway to God. It was nothing less than the dwelling place of God on earth. It is perhaps also worth reminding ourselves that this was the case for “all peoples”. Not just Jews, though of course it was the Temple for the Jewish nation too.

To enter the Temple was to come close to God himself.  To make this point we know it was a magnificent structure the likes of which were not seen in the known world. It was truly awesome and amazing.

For the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews writing after the destruction of thus Temple most likely, Jesus is seen to be the replacement of this Temple.

All the imagery in the Epistle is temple imagery and it is all associated with Jesus. Jesus is Temple High priest and sacrifice. As the epistle proceeds.

So today we stand not at the blazing fire found at mount Sinai in the story of Moses in the wilderness but at the holy Temple itself.. Holy city Zion the heavenly Jerusalem.

And here we find Jesus the mediator… the means for a new promise of God to his people.

So when we listen to our gospel words for today we encounter Jesus healing a nameless woman who could only be recognised by being bent double. It might appear she simply encountered Jesus, we are not told she was looking for him or seeking healing like we are with so many other people we encounter in the gospels. This encounter results in a complete change for her.

Despite the point about healing on the Sabbath, I think the more interesting connection is the encounter with Jesus.

A few verses later Jesus tells us about another woman who took yeast and mixed it with flour until it was all leavened….. could it be the same woman?

Our own encounters with Jesus come in so many mixed ways… some needless to say we may even miss.

How do you think you may have encountered Jesus this last week? When do you think your response to the encounter was to suddenly walk upright?

Sometimes we do spot these moments, and we all know when they have happened.

One of the more obvious (hopefully) places we encounter Jesus, well at least we put ourselves in his way at least… is the Eucharist.

As Paul says every time we break the bread we proclaim the Lord,… we show the Lord.

One favourite prayer in the Eucharist which we sadly omit at the moment, is known as the prayer of humble access and I am inviting us to pray this together later.

The image of not being worthy may conjure in us the need to bow down indeed gathering crumbs under a table means bowing down … or be bent double maybe?

We approach Communion both humbly and yet expectantly. Jesus becomes for us the mediator of a wholly (holy) new promise of God life living in and through us. We pray that we may be living sacrifices to pick up the sacrificial images in the epistle to the Hebrews.

The Epistle to the Hebrews invites its readers to imagine the city of the living God being in their very midst. How much do we actually live like that? Or do we choose more often than not to slip back into the gloom of despair and complaint?

Our epistle continues.” Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us give thanks, by which we offer to God an acceptable worship with reverence and awe;”

Roman Catholics often refer to this service as “The Mass”. This is to focus on the very end of the service and the Latin  “Ite, missa est” (“Go, it is the sending [dismissal]” The identifying word “Mass” actually focuses on the people who are sent out from the receiving.

When we come to our dismissal today from this encounter with Jesus let us respond with positive intent to proclaim and show and to live a life of God.

So I think today I want to dwell on the encounter and what it means to us, and how it transforms who we are.