Year B Easter 7 WEDNESDAY, 19 May 2021
Video Service from St. James the Less Episcopal, Ashland, VA
This "King Melchizedek of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham as he was returning from defeating the kings and blessed him" and to him Abraham apportioned "one-tenth of everything." His name, in the first place, means "king of righteousness" next he is also king of Salem, that is, "king of peace." Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever. See how great he is! Even Abraham the patriarch gave him a tenth of the spoils. And those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to collect tithes from the people, that is, from their kindred, though these also are descended from Abraham. But this man, who does not belong to their ancestry, collected tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had received the promises. It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior. In the one case, tithes are received by those who are mortal; in the other, by one of whom it is testified that he lives. One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him. Now if perfection had been attainable through the levitical priesthood-- for the people received the law under this priesthood-- what further need would there have been to speak of another priest arising according to the order of Melchizedek, rather than one according to the order of Aaron? For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well. Now the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. It is even more obvious when another priest arises, resembling Melchizedek, one who has become a priest, not through a legal requirement concerning physical descent, but through the power of an indestructible life. For it is attested of him, "You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek."
The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!" He said to them, "I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven." At that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." Then turning to the disciples, Jesus said to them privately, "Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it."
Sending out the 70, Jesus trusted the Spirit to do the Spirit’s job. The Spirit precedes us in our ministry. The Spirit goes ahead and paves the way. The Spirit opens people’s hearts and minds to the words we will speak, or will divert them if they will hinder what God wants to be done. I love this story, and the way Jesus celebrates their successes is so joy filled. Listen again to his exuberance:
“I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
“Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”
Jesus wants us to be a part of what was and is to be done. He did not come only to save us, but to enact and implement the Kingdom of God on earth. That involves us, as unworthy as we are, as ignorant as we are. Jesus even says as much. He says we are like “infants” when we go out. That is not an insult, but an assessment of where we are. And he calls us to maturity in him, and enables us to do what we do, and one do we will see “face to face” as I Corinthians 13 promises. But we have to start somewhere, thanks be to God.
We have this because Jesus is who he is. He receives from the Father and hands on to us what he receives. In the Hebrews passage, we see him in this lineage of the eternal priesthood, calling us to trust in him fully.
This obscure reference to Melchizedek is to the King of Salem, the walled city which we think later became Jerusalem. Abraham was beholding to him, and gave him a tithe, 10%, of his spoils from war. Melchizedek shared bread and wine, mirroring the Eucharist, and the early church latched onto this image of a priest without known lineage as a forerunner of Jesus.
This metaphorical ideal is fascinating and beautiful. And it is on this security and authority that we lean as we head out. We head out to not change a situation, but to transform the world, to bring to fruition the Kingdom of God on earth.
We do this through what we focus on for this Sunday, the Spirit, the Advocate, the Comforter, the God-in-Us. We stand secure because of this eternal priest pleading on our behalf, one who is in the high order of Melchizedek. There is no stained and unworthy priest, but one who is flawless and blameless and perfect. Thanks be to God!
Friends, I stand with you, in need of this. I am with you, because I stand in need of Jesus’ love and grace, as do we all. I look forward to Sunday. I look forward to what is to be. I look forward to this remembrance of the difference in me and the difference I can make in the world because of the coming of the Holy Spirit. Thanks be to God! Amen
Wednesday, May 19, 2021
Year B Easter 7 WED 2021 Like Melchizedek
Year B Easter 7 WEDNESDAY, 19 May 2021