March 2019   
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Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost (August 7th)

Pastor's Summary of the Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16

The author has urged his readers to recall the time after they were baptized: they endured hardships:-public abuse, persecution and "plundering of your possessions" (10:34), accepting these privations cheerfully "knowing that you...possessed something better and more lasting" . So, he urges, "do not abandon...that confidence of yours" (10:35). "You need endurance" (10:36) to "receive what was promised" (i.e. eternal life with Christ). Christ will come again; keep your faith in him. In the Revised English Bible, 11:1 reads "Faith gives substance to our hopes and convinces us of the realities we do not see". Through faith we know that, at creation time, the invisible was transformed into the visible by God's command ("the word of God", v. 3) and that the course of history ("worlds") was set by God.  The author now gives examples of Old Testament figures who lacked the "promises" v. 13) we have but even so had faith in God; they "received [God's] approval" (v. 2). "Abraham" (v. 8) trusted that he would have a land to inherit; he didn't know "Where he was going". He (as we do) lived a temporary life on earth ("in tents", v. 9) as he "looked forward" (v. 10) to living permanently ("foundations") in "the city", the heavenly Jerusalem, "a better country" (v. 16). In this he is seen to resemble the Christian believer. (Most translations say that Sarah received the "power of procreation", v. 11). Through the faith of Abraham and Sarah, many "descendants were born" (v. 12). These figures (exemplars) saw that Christ would come (v. 13). (In Genesis, actually only Abraham said he was a stranger and a foreigner.) God is proud ("not ashamed", v. 16) of them for electing to exercise trust in him; he has prepared a place for them in heaven.