Hebrews 1: 1-4
Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
Reflection for Dec 25th
The letter to the “Hebrews” is a most remarkable letter; we do not know who wrote it, but the focus is on how Jesus is the true fulfilment of so much of the Old Testament – he is the ultimate and complete sacrifice, he is the great High Priest, he can forgive sins, he is the true King from David; he is greater than the angels.
The writer begins in a way that is completely in line with Jewish thinking. God has spoken in the past. We are not in a world made by a silent non-communicating God. God has spoken in many ways – through the wonder of Creation (Genesis 1); he has spoken in giving the Law and Commandments (Exodus), he has spoken through the saving act of the Exodus from slavery in Egypt; he has spoken through the prophets, in the rituals and sacrifices, he has spoken in story and proverb.
“BUT in these last days”, he writes, “God has spoken to us by a Son, whom he has appointed heir of all things.” This is a complex sentence. Jesus himself is the Word, but Jesus’s words are also the speaking of God. Who Jesus is, what Jesus did and also what he said and taught are all the speaking of God into the world.
From this basis Hebrews will go on to explore and describe the significance of Jesus, the Son, the one who completes all those previous spoken and enacted utterances of God.
In our winter of discontent, cold, war, rising prices, strikes and struggles, do we hear God speak to us through Jesus. The birth of a baby is something to celebrate, but Christmas is not just about the birth of a baby, but the great “communication” of God, from God, by God into the world.
When people speak, some will listen, some will hear but forget, some will fail to understand either content or significance, some will react negatively. Some will be too preoccupied to take it in, whether from business, self-absorption, anxiety, or a realisation that it is too challenging so better deflected away.
As we start in on the letter to the Hebrews we find ourselves being challenged more and more about who is this Jesus, the one born of Mary, brought up by Mary and Joseph, born in Bethlehem, raised in Nazareth, at the same time, the one begotten not created, “the reflection of God’s glory, the exact imprint of God’s very being” as Hebrews puts it. This ordinary baby, growing through ordinary childhood yet God Incarnate, living within the restraints of time, growth, space and poverty.
It should make our brain hurt to try and grasp this, but it should also lead us to worship, adoration, thanks and praise for this is amazing news – God has spoken, and the message is one of love, mercy and hope.
Revd Peter Reiss