The passage from Hebrews is a meditation on the concluding verses of Psalm 95, the familiar “Invitatory” of Morning Prayer (Book of Common Prayer, p. 82). Actually, these verses are usually omitted from Morning Prayer, as they start the day with an allusion to God’s wrath:
Oh, that today you would hearken to his voice!
Harden not your hearts, as your forebears did in the wilderness,
. . . . . .
They put me to the test, though they had seen my works.
Forty years long I detested that generation and said,
“These people are wayward in their hearts; they do not know my ways.”
So I swore in my wrath, “They shall not enter into my rest.”
The author of Hebrews notes that God’s “rest,” that is, God’s reality, justice, and love, is always there like a backdrop to human history, always there to be found to those who listen, those whose hearts are not hardened . We lose faith, we put God to the test, we wander in the wilderness with hard hearts, and God appears as a God of wrath. Yet the door to a relationship with God never closes. God’s “today” is the rest after the six days of creation. It was “today” for those who followed Joshua and again “today” for the author of the psalm, and again today for the writer and the first readers and hearers of Hebrews, and again today for us in Lent 2011. “. . . the promise of entering God’s rest is still open. . . . Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest.” Let us take the time to enter daily and weekly into a sabbath rest, a time of quiet, prayer, and contemplation where we cease our work and “hearken to his voice!”