My cousins and I all used to attend daycare at my grandma's house. On one side of her yard, halfway between the sidewalk and the front corner of the house, there was a large evergreen tree. This tree was always a point of enjoyment for us: sometimes we climbed it, sometimes we chased squirrels around it, and sometimes we had pinecone wars when the tree dropped them all to the ground. But one of the clearest memories for me is when we made it into our own little clubhouse.
The tree had some very lush branches at the base, and therefore the heavy branches formed an igloo shaped hideout as they arched to the ground from the weight. It wasn't much, but it was secluded and we had imaginations. The first thing we did was mark the tree trunk with chalk. All we did was put an "X" on the trunk at eye level, but it was our mark, claiming the tree as our own. Our second order of business, of course, was to write "No Girls Allowed" underneath the "X" (what can you expect from a club of boys?).
As I've gone on this Lenten journey through Hebrews, I have often been reminded of God marking us. Just as my cousins and I marked our tree for a clubhouse, God has marked us all in baptism as his children. In my Ash Wednesday post, I made the connection that the ashes placed on me during the Ash Wednesday service reminded me of the cross of water traced across my head and my heart at my baptism. These marks are there to show that God has claimed us.
Hebrews, I believe, is the story of Lent. It's the story of our depravity, of the human condition of sin. And it's the story of God's work in that darkness. Hebrews is the narrative of God brining light to the world, and the exposition of what that means for us. We have been freely given the gift of salvation by grace through faith, all because of Jesus. He is our king, our priest, and our Lamb of Atonement: by sacrificing himself he brought us back into God's presence.
Hebrews is also about how God is working in our lives today. Jesus is in heaven, continuing to act as our priest and advocating us before the father. And it's about our response to being God's. There is a theme of Sanctification that runs deeply through the book. What is Sanctification? Not that we work for our salvation: Hebrews is clear that we have been redeemed by the work of Jesus, not by our own hands. Rather, it's a response to Jesus's saving work on the cross. I like to explain Sanctification with the following phrase: you're saved, act like it.
We are Called as followers of Jesus to share what we have - the news that Jesus Christ gave up his power to enter into our broken world, suffer as one of us, die as one of us, and rise again as one of us. In this way, we were made heirs to heaven. Now we get to share the news of that inheritance with everyone we come in contact with. And why wouldn't we want to pass that news on?
I'm going to leave you with my favorite benediction in the Bible, which is of course from Hebrews. It is a reminder of what God has done for us, his children, and a reassurance that we go with him through our lives.
Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. - Hebrews 13:20-21