Scripture: Nehemiah 12:27 Now at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem (God’s people) sought out the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with rejoicing, with thanksgivings and with singing, with cymbals, harps, and lyres. 28 The companies of the singers gathered together…for the singers had built for themselves villages around Jerusalem. 30 And the priests and the Levites purified themselves; and they purified the people and the gates and the wall… 43 They offered great sacrifices that day and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and children also rejoiced. The joy of Jerusalem was heard far away.
Observation: When God’s people returned from captivity in Babylon and saw the ruined city walls of Jerusalem, I’m sure some thought the day depicted in our passage would never come. The job was too big. It would take too long. Where would they find the materials to rebuild, much less pay for them? What if they were attacked during the rebuilding process? Surely the surrounding nations of people wouldn’t want Israel strong again. The odds of success would have seemed low indeed. Yet, despite the odds, God’s grace and favor pulled them through. They accomplished the impossible and celebrated at the job’s completion.
Application: This coming Sunday is the 25th anniversary of the church I serve, Rejoice Lutheran Church in suburban Dallas. Lately I’ve been hearing stories from people who were around in the church’s very earliest days. There were certainly obstacles they had to overcome to birth the church, but God’s grace prevailed.
And so we will gather this coming Sunday to worship the Lord, to tell stories, to remember what God has done in the past and look ahead to what God has in store for our future. As I write this my heart is filled with gratitude. I’m grateful for the many who’ve sacrificed over the years to make Rejoice a fruitful congregation. And I’m grateful for the Lord’s grace and mercy which has marked the ministry of Rejoice from the beginning.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, you are such a good God. You were present with the people of Rejoice in those very first days… and every single day since. Give us grace to honor those who’ve gone before us while exploring new and exciting ways to share the good news of Jesus Christ in a rapidly changing world. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.