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Hope as an Anchor – Hebrews 6:19-20

19We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, steadfast and firm and entering the inner side of the veil. 20Jesus entered there as a forerunner for us, becoming a high priest eternally according to the order of Melchizedek. — Hebrews 6:19-20

When I joined the Air Force, my mother made me a quilt that had this text embroidered in it in Greek. That quilt stayed with me more than 20 years. Why “anchor” for someone in the Air Force? Well, two things. I had intended to joint he Navy, but then got a job closer to what I wanted with the Air Force, and then she thought my soul still needed an anchor–as indeed it did!

Today, I was reading the Ancient Commentary on Christian Scripture (Hebrews), pages 93-94, [On the Epistle to the Hebrews 11.3] and I was very much struck by the comments of St. John Chrysostom. You can guess that I particularly appreciate his commentary on scripture by the number of posts I’ve made that consist mostly of a large quotation from him. In this case he talks about the importance of hope as an anchor.

The foundation of this hope, the “meat” of it, is that God takes and oath and does not lie, and he says that we will be heirs. That’s the hope we’re talking about. Each of us needs some kind of hope. St. John Chrysostom notes that “we are already living amid God’s promises.” Then he adds: “. . . through hope we are already in heaven.” That’s intense hope.

But some of us have a hard time holding onto hope. When things get discouraging hope gets weak! St. John points out that the apostle (he assumes Paul as the author) chooses his figure wisely. There are those who are founded on the rock as Jesus said (Matthew 7:24-27). Then there are the rest of us, who are not quite so steady. We need an anchor that holds us in place even though we are shaken. This is a message for the folks who don’t feel quite so anchored on a rock. Quoting again: “For the surge and the great storm toss the boat, but hope does not permit it to be carried back and forth, although winds innumerable agitate it, so that, unless we had this hope we should long ago have been sunk.”

This passage fits especially well into the message of Hebrews, which is for people who have begun to follow Jesus but have been looking back because of hardships. The author repeatedly assures us that the goal is worth working for, but he also tells us that we must keep going. They weren’t people whose houses were fully founded on the rock. They were shaken, but they needed–and they had–an anchor so no matter how they were shaken, they would still end up in place.

I think most of us are more like that. The house on the rock is a good ideal toward which we can strive, but I think we feel much more like an anchored ship weathering a storm. If that’s the case, Jesus still has the anchor to keep you safe. You’ll probably get wet, you’ll probably be shaken, but you’ll come out alright in the end.

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