Sunday, January 24, 2016

oh praise him

As I write this my earbuds are filled with hymns that I know by heart.  The music is slow and reflective forcing me to hear the songs in greater depth.  There is this quiet voice singing 'oh praise him, oh praise.  Alleluia....Alleluia....Alleluia.'

This hymn brings me to the scripture that I was to preach this morning.

The scripture is Nehemiah 8.

I'm not going lie, I love Nehemiah.  He is an unsung layperson within our story of faith. He had this uncanny way of pulling his community together. He was a cheerleader when those around him were broken and weary from the stones that lie around them reminding them every day that they had been defeated. The broken wall reminded them that they were vulnerable to their enemy.  The broken wall made the community question who they were in their midst of their faith.  The crumbled stones left their minds weary and unable to make decisions. The shattered wall left them wondering about their future.  The dust of the stones covered their hearts and left the people paralyzed.

Nehemiah returns home and takes charge. He isn't afraid to make decisions for the community. He isn't afraid to say to them, you gotta work together. He says to them, if you want this city to be rebuilt; if you want your lives back, you have to work together. You have to stand shoulder to shoulder trusting that your neighbor has your back.  Nehemiah leveled the playing field. The poor beggar had to stand beside the highly educated. The law makers would go hungry without the knowledge and handiwork of the farmer. The laborer had to ask for assistance from the banker who could broker the deals that were needed. Every single person within their community was invited into something larger than themselves in order to rebuild the city.

Trust

Questions

Confession that they could not stand on their own

Acceptance 

Unity

Nehemiah doesn't force theses things upon his community invites them into a new way of understanding one another.  In the  give and take, individuals once again become a community.  

It wasn't a religious leader that impacted the community.It wasn't the priest who pulled the people together and gave voice to the fear they were feeling. It wasn't a pastor who gave them a plan of rebuilding.....it was one of their own. It was a layperson who made the greatest impact on this devastated community.

The city is rebuilt and Ezra is back on the scene.

Did you read Nehemiah 8?  

Read it.

Did you see it?  Did you see what happened here in this part of our story of faith?  

Everybody gathers together.  Not just the men, but the women and children are part of this story. As Ezra stands to read from the book of the law {their scripture...their words of encouragement and hope} every one stands.  

Imagine that......think of every single person in our congregation standing shoulder to shoulder, raising their hands, turning their ears to the words that are being proclaimed.  Now picture all of us that gather on Sunday morning, standing shoulder to shoulder with the 150 families that come on Saturdays. Everyone equal, everyone longing, everyone desiring the exact same thing; to be filled with the power of God's holiness. 

They don't just stand for a second; they keep standing through the entire reading.  

WOW...just WOW

Can you imagine what it would be like for us to stand through the entire reading of the book of John or Romans?  

In their standing I see something that I long to have.

I see their commitment to the Holy of Holy.  I see their longing to be made new and experience a transformation like no other.  I hear their breathing, steady and calm; not restless and labored but steady. I see them standing even when it is difficult and finding a steadiness in and through God's word.  When it is hard and they want to quit, they keep standing, they keep receiving what God is offering.

Their standing allows them to hear the words that they heard so many time before in a new depth and pours upon them a fresh understanding.  In their weakness they are made strong. In their weariness they begin to rise and soar like that of an eagle.  In their devastation they experience an anointing that wipes away the ashes and restores them with new life.

Today I want to stand.

I want to stand with the holy of holies and lean into the words that are being revealed to me over and over.

In my weariness I want to know that there is a place where I am welcomed and encouraged.

When I have nothing else to give I want to be able to stand as the words of God pour over me.

I want to find that steadiness that God is offering.

When I feel alone I want to stand with my brothers and sisters knowing that I am accepted just as I am.

I want to be able to stand and sing oh praise him, oh praise him.

I want to receive God's calm and peace when it feels like I cannot take another step.



Do you feel isolated and alone?
       Are you struggling to find your place?
                     Are you overwhelmed by the devastation and heartache that you are enduring?
                             Do you feel like God is calling you to be the voice for a community who needs to                                 be moved to action?
                                         In your weariness are you burying your head in the sand?
                                                Are you wondering if this day is worth all the trouble?


Today, God is pouring his words over us.  

Hear him read the words of life, of truth and healing just for you.

Take a second and stand up, open your arms, breath deep and steady.  

Let the words pour over you.  

When you get weary from standing, let his Spirit calm you and give you strength.

Oh, praise him....Oh, praise him......

Receive his anointing today.....