Summary: When you go to work, however tough your job, you don't go alone
Tomorrow many of you will be in the workplace. Some of you may have to make difficult decisions about people’s livelihoods. Who do you fire? Who do you keep? Some of you may have to face difficult moral choices? Do you obey that order from your boss when it is ethically suspect? But if you don’t and you lose your job, how you will you pay your bills? Some of you will face working alongside difficult and challenging people who if you weren’t a Christian you would quite happily slap. Some of you will love your jobs and see a real sense of calling and purpose in what you do. Others of you will drag yourself out of bed with sense of dread, only going to work because you have to provide for your family.
But if you go to work tomorrow, you have one thing that 92% of people in this country don’t have. Whatever decisions you have to make, whatever situations or people you have to face, you don’t do it alone. Because you have a relationship with Jesus.
As our reading from Hebrews puts it “19Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, 20by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), 21and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith”
We have access to God. Fr Nicky Gumbel in the Alpha Course tells of a soldier during the American civil War. There’s a tragedy at home - I can’t remember exactly what - but he goes to the white house, desperate to see the president to beg leave so he can see his elderly mother. But of course he can’t get through the security guards. Exhausted, he collapses on a bench outside and begins to cry. “What’s the matter” says a little boy. The soldier explains. The little boy says “come with me” and takes him by the hand. The boys leads him past all the security guards and right into the oval office. “Daddy,” says the little boy to the President “this man needs your help”. Like the soldier, we have access to the Father through the son.
“Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith”
Whatever difficult situations we may face, whether at work or elsewhere, we have access to Father, through the son.
We have access because of something that happened, a specific thing that happened a long time ago.
But before I talk about that, let me talk about Judith. Judith was the Christian I met who had Downs Syndrome. I met her when I was 18. In the years that followed I have met many others. Judith had many quirks. If you were preaching, you couldn’t use a rhetorical question, because she would always answer it. And she did have a habit if you stood still of trying to tie your shoe laces together. But she had a deep personal faith.
Judith couldn’t have explained to you what the Nicene Creed meant or expounded to you the nature of the trinity or the doctrine of Justification by Faith. But she knew what it meant to have Jesus as her friend.
I mention Judith, because Judith helped me to grasp that there is nothing I need to do to earn my access to God. Someone else has already sorted that. As Hebrews 10:12 puts it “Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins”
Liberals are tempted to think if you do enough good deeds you’ll earn access to God. Catholics are tempted to think if you rituals right and go to mass often enough you will earn access to God. Protestants are tempted to think if you know and believe exactly the right doctrines you will earn access to God.
None of this is true.
Judith certainly didn’t get all the rituals right in mass, though she loved going. And even more so Judith couldn’t have signed any evangelical group’s doctrinal basis, because she wouldn’t have understood a word of it. But she knew Jesus was her friend.
In the 16th and 17th Century Christians spent over 200 years arguing about these things. Catholics getting more and more uptight about whether you crossed yourself the right number of times or wore the right shaped chasuble. Protestants splintering into more and more denominations, as they moved from arguing about the Virgin Mary and the celebration of Christmas to arguing and disagreeing about the exact order of how things were to happen in the end times. For two hundred years they burnt each other and beheaded each other, and generally missed the point of what the Gospel is all about - the point that ironically Judith had no difficulty grasping - that Jesus was her friend.