Celebration and grief… at the same time…



Ezra 3:10 When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, the priests in their vestments were stationed to praise the LORD with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, according to the directions of King David of Israel; 11 and they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the LORD, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel.” And all the people responded with a great shout when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid. 12 But many of the priests and Levites and heads of families, old people who had seen the first house on its foundations, wept with a loud voice when they saw this house, though many shouted aloud for joy, 13 so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people’s weeping, for the people shouted so loudly that the sound was heard far away.

Jerusalem was overrun and the temple destroyed more than 70 years before this scene took place. In many ways renewing the practice of worship and sacrifice to God at the temple was a cause for celebration. Particularly for those who were less than 70 years old, this would have been the first time in their lives they would have witnessed this. A key piece of their identity as God’s people was restored. A dream was coming true!

But for the oldest among them the experience was bittersweet. The temple before them was a shadow of what it had been in their youth. It was a far cry from the splendor of the glory days. And so they wept. Bitterly.

Rather than elation, the older among them experienced grief and loss.

This kind of thing happens all the time. Different people experience new things differently depending on their general personality, their memory, their expectations, their hopes and dreams. I’m the sort of person who generally welcomes new things. Some of you are like me in this regard. Doing the same thing over and over can feel stale over time, so we want to mix things up.

Other people, regardless of age, are very different. They value things remaining the same. There is comfort for them in predictability. In tradition. If it ain’t broke… why fix it? But the world around us is changing all the time and, if we’re going to be meaningfully connected to that world (particularly as the church), we have to adapt with it. That means… change. And celebration. And loss. All at the same time.

Lord Jesus, come alongside your people as we navigate a changing world. Give us wisdom to know what needs to change and what needs to stay the same. And comfort those who are experiencing grief and loss because of change. Amen.


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