There are a couple of very important things, it seems to me, that we need to reflect on as we listen together to the Scripture lessons this morning. The first thing is about that passage from the book of Nehemiah. As I mentioned in introducing the reading, the Chosen people had returned from exile. When they had been driven out of their own country, their temple had been destroyed, their homes demolished — everything was total destruction, they had to come back.
They were beginning to rebuild. It would take quite a while to have the temple restored, but they began to gather together on the Sabbath day. This is when they began the practice of listening to God’s Word. As we heard in that first lesson, they’re trying to rebuild the community. They had been scattered in exile and now they’re coming back to be God’s people once more. What’s the best way for them to be bonded together?
What would be better than to hear God’s own Word as it had been kept in the Hebrew Scriptures? So the leaders brought all the people together, and it mentions even the children were there to listen to God’s Word. What was the purpose of that? It was because they not only had to rebuild their temple, their city, and their homes, but they had to rebuild their sense of community. What could bind them together more deeply than hearing together God’s message of love for them and for all creation?
Isn’t the same thing true for us? That’s why we come together every week and listen to God’s Word. It’s to enable us to form deeper bonds built on that Word of God that makes us a community, binds us together, hearing how God loves us, trying to respond to that love to God and to one another. We are bound together in this community of the church. I suggest that it’s important for us to really take this liturgy and the Word seriously every week...