Thursday, 1 October 2009

Rejoicing Will Be Our Strength

Posted: 30 Sep 2009 09:00 PM PDT

Neh 8:1-4a, 5-6, 7b-12 / Lk 10:1-12

When at last the Israelites returned to their homeland after decades in exile, they had forgotten much of their religious tradition, especially since the center of their religious life, the temple, had been destroyed so long before. So their interest was genuine when one of the priests found an ancient copy of God’s law and read it to them, young and old alike. Yet, as today’s Old Testament reading tells us, the whole lot of them fell to weeping as they heard God’s word spelled out, page after page.

Where did those tears come from? Was it sadness at recognizing the great disparity between the way of life to which God called them and the way of life they were actually following? Undoubtedly so. But there must have been something more as well. It must have been the joy that came from seeing how faithful God had been to them from the very beginning, even when they had been utterly faithless. Their biggest tears had to be tears of joy at recognizing that God had never given up on them and never would.

Their leader Nehemiah put it simply, “… rejoicing in the Lord must be your strength.” And so must it be with us. No matter what comes our way, even the immense sadness of belatedly recognizing our own sins, we must rejoice that our God will never abandon us. And that rejoicing will be our strength, for it opens the door to his grace, his strength, and his healing.

And it opens our eyes to a glimpse of the eternity that can be ours. So rejoice in the Lord, and have no fear.

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