Eve of the Nativity Fast
 Though we speak thus, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things that belong to salvation.
 For God is not so unjust as to overlook your work and the love which you showed for his sake in serving the saints, as you still do.
 And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness in realizing the full assurance of hope until the end,
 so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
 For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself,
 saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.”
 And thus Abraham, having patiently endured, obtained the promise.
 Men indeed swear by a greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation.
 So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he interposed with an oath,
 so that through two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible that God should prove false, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to seize the hope set before us.
 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner shrine behind the curtain,
 where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest for ever after the order of Melchiz’edek.
 For this Melchiz’edek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him;
 and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace.
 He is without father or mother or genealogy, and has neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest for ever.
 See how great he is! Abraham the patriarch gave him a tithe of the spoils.
 And those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to take tithes from the people, that is, from their brethren, though these also are descended from Abraham.
 But this man who has not their genealogy received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises.
 It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior.
 Here tithes are received by mortal men; there, 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 Melchiz’edek met him.
 He entered Jericho and was passing through.
 And there was a man named Zacchae’us; he was a chief tax collector, and rich.
 And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not, on account of the crowd, because he was small of stature.
 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was to pass that way.
 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchae’us, make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today.”
 So he made haste and came down, and received him joyfully.
 And when they saw it they all murmured, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.”
 And Zacchae’us stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold.”
 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham.
 For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost.”
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is copyright © National Council of Churches of Christ in America