Happy Monday and Happy New Year, my friends! One of the Revised Common Lectionary texts for yesterday was Hebrews 2:10-18. For this first Monday Moment of 2023 I want to focus on verses 10, 11, and 18: “It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one God. For this reason, Jesus is not ashamed to call them siblings…Because Jesus was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.”
In the United States we like to talk about getting rid of the old year and embracing the new year. We depict the former year as an old man and the new year as a baby. We resolve to make life changes, to embrace new routines, to explore new comforts. By February—if we lasted that long—we’re back to our old habits. It’s striking that each year we believe that something will change or that the problems of the last year won’t find us a few days later because the last digit in the year has changed. I was recently reviewing legislative and state board of education measures with one of the advocacy coalitions of which LOVEboldly is a member. While we had a significant number of successes, most were simply delaying bills until they can be reintroduced in the new legislative session. That means that our work is far from done even on those bills. This time of year, might bring time to relax and recalibrate, but the work of justice and the work of liberation, which is the work of God and the church, continues unabated.
While today’s selection from the Letter to the Hebrews is focused on spiritual warfare and Jesus’ death as an atonement, I think we can read these verses in another light. The Gospels are clear that while Jesus lived on Earth, he suffered from being born among cattle in a manger, to being a refugee in Egypt, to experiencing homelessness throughout his ministry, to his death on the cross. Jesus knew and knows what it is to suffer. But rather than just know the physical, emotional, and spiritual sensations involved in suffering, Jesus calls out to those who have suffered throughout history and those who continue suffering today. He names them as his siblings. Hebrews 2:18 reminds us that “Because Jesus was tested by what he suffered; he is able to help those who are being tested.”
Working for justice is hard and while it may not always rise to the level of suffering, it nevertheless tests us. We can rely on having a savior who doesn’t just know what we’re going through but is engaged in the work with us. We are his siblings when we’re engaging in social justice. Yes, friends, 2023 is here and it will bring many of the same struggles for justice which 2022 brought. The new year will challenge and test us in ways familiar and in ways yet unknown. We can be confident, though, in a savior who will support us without qualification, because we are his siblings, and we are being tested.
How are you preparing for the challenges of 2023? What are you excited about in the new year?
Let us pray: God, we lift up where we are right now and where we hope to get to this year. We lift up all that challenges us and what will challenge us this year. Grant us the knowledge that we are your children and siblings of your son, Jesus. May we uplift each other when we are tested and in our individual and collective sufferings. We ask this for the sake of your son. Amen.
Blessings, my friends, on your week. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you.