Hi friends and happy Easter!! Today we're beginning the book of Nehemiah, the point in which the city and temple is rebuilt. What a perfect message for today, right? Easter is the celebration of the new and everlasting covenant that God made with us through Jesus resurrection, and this is a story about the rebuilding of the temple. To say that disappointment does not have the last word. Before you even read it, just try to imagine the emotions the people were feeling. Swelling pride for sure, but also deep pain as each new wall reminded you of the first one. Imagine what it was like to do all of this while under the watchful eye of those that are trying to stop it. Imagine if our church was destroyed in some devastating accident, and the only way we could build it again is if we did it ourselves, no contractors. Where would you build first? Think about the pressure to get it right again. By visualizing the scripture we get a better idea of just how exciting and tense this reading is. Let's jump in!
Scripture to Read
Questions to Consider
What does this reveal about the nature of God? ("See, I am making all things new")
What does this reveal about what was happening at the time?
What, if anything, about this reading feels applicable today? What does it challenge me to do in response?
- My Thoughts -
It's hard to talk about Nehemiah and not take a second to brag on my friend, Jim Scazkacs, of the Nehemiah Mission of Cleveland. Jim took over as executive director of the Nehemiah Mission 13 years ago with the purpose of re-enegergizing the core values of the mission. What are those values? Well, just read Nehemiah! Nehemiah looked to a destroyed city and took it upon himself to lead the rebuilding. The magic of Nehemiah is that if you noticed, no one person was responsible for any one project. Each wall, lattice, window, roof, flooring, decor, etc. was done at different times by different crews of people. Each offering a little to contribute to the greater good of the project. Nehemiah Mission's goal is to help revitalize the city of Cleveland by providing incentive and opportunity for people to buy good homes, start up a successful business, or to be a place to teach refugees. Whenever Jim works with a group the first thing he explains is that every thing you do here goes towards completing the larger project. No task is more important than another. If all you do is prep meals to give to homeless people, you providing nutrition for someone so they can spend time furthering themselves and not just surviving. If you paint a house or pound a nail, you've helped raise the property value of that house and brought up the economy of the community. If you help clean up a room, you've helped create a classroom that teaches African refugees. Every little bit of work goes to the greater good. I LOVE the Nehemiah Mission and I'm so glad our Youth have gotten to work with them a little bit so far.
But revitalization isn't just reserved for Cleveland. Our church needs it to. What can you do, knowing that every task big or small is important, to help our church reach the next 200 years?
Praying the Hymns
Our prayer for today is from hymn 203 in our United Methodist Hymnal - Hail to the Lord's Anointed. I invite you to either listen to the recording in quiet meditation to help set the day up for peace, or participate in the song by humming, singing, or reciting the words.
1. Hail to the Lord's Anointed, great David's greater Son! Hail in the time appointed, his reign on earth begun! He comes to break oppression, to set the captive free; to take away transgression, and rule in equity.
2. He comes with succor speedy to those who suffer wrong; to help the poor and needy, and bid the weak be strong; to give them songs for sighing, their darkness turn to light, whose souls, condemned and dying, are precious in his sight.
3. He shall come down like showers upon the fruitful earth; love, joy, and hope, like flowers, spring in his path to birth. Before him, on the mountains, shall peace, the herald, go, and righteousness, in fountains, from hill to valley flow.
4. To him shall prayer unceasing and daily vows ascend; his kingdom still increasing, a kingdom without end. The tide of time shall never his covenant remove; his name shall stand forever; that name to us is love.