Luke 1:46b-55 I Samuel 1:1-18 Hebrews 9:1-14
Our destination is getting closer. We will soon be gathering to celebrate a beautiful candlelight Christmas Eve and then waking on Christmas morning to open packages and join our family of faith for another worship gathering. It will be a blessed weekend!
But first, we have a task at hand. It is the opportunity to prepare for worship. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day will be unique worship experiences so preparation calls for a unique method of getting ready.
In Hebrews 9 we find a wonderful description of the early worship setting for the Hebrew people. They found freedom from bondage in Egypt and then moved into the wilderness where they wandered for 40 years before arriving at the promised land. The time of wandering was also a time of worship. They were on the road but God was with them all the way.
God gave detailed instructions so they could build the Tabernacle (often called the Tent of Meeting) as a traveling worship center. Ultimately each of the elements of the Tabernacle would be duplicated in the Temple and then in the Synagogue. For now, we are going to think about the Holy of Holies. It is described in Hebrews 9:3 but you can discover much more in Exodus 25-30.
Once a year only the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies to perform sacred duties. The priest would pass through the curtain that separated the Most High Place from the outer area. The curtain was blue and purple with scarlet yarn adornments. It was created of finely made linen with the image of a cherubim woven into the cloth. The curtain was hung on gold hooks that were attached to four posts that were made from the finest acacia wood. The wood was inlaid with gold and the posts were held upright by four silver bases.
Before the priest entered through the curtain there was a ritual of cleansing and preparation. Nothing that was unclean could enter the sacred space.
We do not approach our worship space in the same way. Our traditions are more informal. We have only one high priest, Jesus himself. And we have no Holy of Holies. But we do have a gift to offer to the world. It is the gift we call the priesthood of all believers. As a believer in Christ, you are a priest and you have a priestly function.
Our function in worship is to be the Holy of Holies where God chooses to reside. As such, we are the sacred temple of God. We are the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. Because we have a sacred function, we must enter with preparation and with the knowledge that God is present in our lives.
We have been traveling a road together as we make our way to the manger. I invite you to travel as a member of a consecrated priest in the company of other believers. Prepare your heart, wash your hands, confess your sin, repent, and believe…In return, God will bless you richly. ²