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Daily Devotional • January 4

Emily Hylden
Faith and Sacrifice
A Reading from Hebrews 11:23-31

23 By faith Moses was hidden by his parents for three months after his birth, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. 24 By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called a son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to share ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He considered abuse suffered for the Christ to be greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to the reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, unafraid of the king’s anger, for he persevered as though he saw him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.

29 By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as if it were dry land, but when the Egyptians attempted to do so they were drowned. 30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell after they had been encircled for seven days. 31 By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had received the spies in peace.

Faith calls us to hope in the future. We’re challenged to count the present situation of our lives as worth enduring for the sake of some greater “reward” (as it's termed in today’s epistle lesson). This sort of conviction has sometimes been used as evidence that religion is only the “opiate of the masses,” to keep those who are suffering, or under abuse, or oppressed by a more powerful master, from balking at their lot. Religious people are under the mistaken impression that something better is coming in the next life, something they will have earned by their good, self-sacrificing behavior now. 

Aside from the psychological gymnastics which Karl Marx’s famous phrase can throw us into, we might wonder, too, at the sort of God who would desire sacrifice from his creation. And here’s the thing: God is truth, the author of it, and is truth itself incarnate — the only truth to which we ought prostrate ourselves. Oppression, abuse, exploitation, going along to get along: these are not big “t” “Truth” to which we may be called to sacrifice or suffer. Moses chose the truth of who he was and truth of the story to which he was called, and that truth resulted in abuse and oppression at the hands of evil. But in his estimation, he lived free, because he lived in the gaze of God and with his feet steadfast in the truth. 

May we know the truth, and may the truth set us free. Indeed, for freedom Christ has set us free, and not for ourselves, but for the truth of God. 

The Rev. Emily R. Hylden resides with her priest husband and three sons in Lafayette, Louisiana. Find her podcasting at Emily Rose Meditations.

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Today we pray for:

Church of St. Michael and St. George, Clayton, Missouri
The Diocese of Oregon
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