Our pastor is preaching through the book of Nehemiah, which is about the rebuilding of Jerusalem after the Jews had survived many years of exile.
This week I was particularly struck by the celebration that took place after the wall was completed and the city was rebuilt. All the people gathered in the center square and asked Ezra, the high priest, to preach the Word to them. After exile, after being separated from one another for I don’t know how long, it was not their desire to settle into their individual homes for a family meal. Rather, it was their desire to gather, to bump into one another, to touch and be touched, and to hear the Truth of their faith read to them.
They desired the community of God and of one another.
After they heard the word of God preached to them, the people began to weep. Perhaps theirs were tears of joy; perhaps of conviction; perhaps of awe in God’s provision. Whatever the reason, the leaders instructed them to stop crying and begin celebrating, for “this day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Neh 8:10)…
10 Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”
11 The Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be still, for this is a sacred day. Do not grieve.”
12 Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them.
Their response to the goodness of God was to have a party.
To this, I can relate.
After two years of depression and grieving a loss and working through my own inner demons, the Zug Haus has become All Party All the Time – to the point where people are showing up without even calling ahead. They just know their presence will be welcomed.
I don’t say this to boast in myself, so please do not hear this. I am not bragging about how popular I am. Rather, I thank God all the time for bringing me through a season of isolation into one in which I can celebrate his goodness with anyone who cares to roast marshmallows at my fire.
He is Good, and Faithful, and Steadfast, and that, my friends, is worth celebrating.