Opening the book of Hebrews is a bit like stepping into Transporter Room on the starship Enterprise. A few verses are all it takes to beam us suddenly down into an alien world filled with angels, sacrificial purification rites and Melchizedek. There’s very little about Hebrews that looks, sounds or feels familiar to 21st-century people, all of which makes dealing with this letter a challenge (and explains why so many of us avoid it).
Among the most
stimulating books I've read recently is Samuel Wells's Be Not Afraid, from which I picked up the phrase repeated several
times in my current lectionary columns for the Century: "What's God up to?" This is the question that counts.
It's Thursday afternoon or later, and Sunday is coming. For a pastor, the push is on to compose a sermon with application that's relevant to its hearers, along with compelling stories that illumine the connection to daily life. I do not disparage these pressures; I know them myself.