The wonderful reading from Hebrews 12 today (second reading) may pass us by, because it presumes that we have a good understanding of the rest of the book, as well as Jewish history, geography, scripture and the Jerusalem temple. It probably doesn’t help that the name of the first mountain is not even given in the text, although the description makes it very clear what the author has in mind. The scene is from Exodus 19-20, when Moses leads the chosen people from the slavery of Egypt into this wilderness encounter with the Lord at Mount Sinai. Although it was a wonderful event, it is so dramatic and overwhelming, that most of the people would have been left as a trembling mess after this theophany. What the author wants us to know, is that as wonderful as Jewish history, centred on these key events of Exodus, wilderness wanderings, settling of the promised land, and the building of a people, then a nation, then a kingdom, which culminated in the establishment of the city of David on Mount Zion, where his son Solomon would build a temple and begin the traditions of temple offerings and sacrifices that shaped the identity of the Jewish people. When he turns in verses 22 to 24 to this contrast that is found on Mount Zion, it is not primarily to negate all that had gone before, but to speak of the ministry of Jesus as being the true and better way – completing and perfecting the limitations of the first and necessary system that was the Mosaic law. The way that he describes the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem is simply stunning. The even more stunning thing is that this access to God the supreme judge is made available through Jesus every time and in every moment that we gather to celebrate the Eucharist.
Recorded at St Paul’s, 7.30am (9 mins)
Sunday 22, Year C.