Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16

“Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured.

Let marriage be held in honor by all, and let the marriage bed be kept undefiled; for God will judge fornicators and adulterers. Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?”

Remember your leaders, those who spoke the word of God to you; consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Through him, then, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16

This past Sunday we kicked off a new year of learning in the life of Faith Lutheran Church. No matter how long it has been since I was in school (no, we didn’t have the Internet or cell phones), my body clock still clicks in with the beginning of a new school year. And we also started a new year of confirmation instruction which has long been one of my favorite things to do as a pastor.

This year we will focus on the major themes of the Bible, from the beginning to the end. I am hoping, by the end of the year, that all of the people involved in confirmation, both children and adults, come away with a new appreciation for the scope of the Bible and for listening regularly to what God has to say to us.

Today’s reading is from the New Testament letter we call Hebrews. Hebrews is basically a long sermon. It is called Hebrews because it is filled with themes that would have been very familiar to a first century Christian audience with some experience of, or familiarity with, Judaism. No one knows who wrote it. Quite likely, the first readers were also people who had experienced some of the rejection and hardships – note how it asks that we remember those in prison and those that are being tortured – that the first Christians knew very well.

Notice also that the readers are encouraged to be faithful to their wives, and to not be greedy about money. Those are also very good words for us today given our fascination with sexuality, the sexual temptations of the Internet, and the constant focus in our culture on money and materialism.

It is interesting to me how differently I read these words today compared to how I might have read them when I was in middle school. Back then, dedication to Christianity meant that I wouldn’t have been able to have any fun. Much of what I was really interested in seemed “against the rules” for Christians. But today they sound entirely different in my ears.

I look at the all of the ways that people are divided from one another, how we are so quick to put others down, how uneasy we are about people who are different from us – and Hebrews challenges us to show hospitality, not hostility, to strangers. Wouldn’t this be a much better world if we did more of that? In the same way, strong and healthy marriages are good for everyone. Being content with what we have rather than always feeling like we need and want more seems a much more peaceful way of life. To do good in our lives, and to share what we have…who can complain about that?

Maybe the Bible is onto something. Maybe it does have something to say to us about the best possible ways for us to live our lives.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, thank you for those who have shown hospitality to us, who have welcomed us and taken us under their wing. Thank you for those who have been there for us when we have been down. And thank you for the relationships in our lives and all the ways that you take care of us. May we in turn share what we have been given with others, that life might be better for everybody. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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One Response to “Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16”

  1. Sharon L. Says:

    Thank you for this compassionate devotion. I am so grateful that you are writing devotions.

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