‘…all the people gathered together into the square before the Water Gate.They told the scribe Ezra to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the Lord had given to Israel. Accordingly, the priest Ezra brought the law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could hear with understanding… He read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive… Then Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people answered, ‘Amen, Amen’, lifting up their hands. Then they bowed their heads and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground… So they read from the book, from the law of God, with interpretation. They gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading…
And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, ‘This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.’ For all the people wept when they heard the words of the law. Then he said to them, ‘Go your way, eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions of them to those for whom nothing is prepared, for this day is holy to our Lord; and do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’ So the Levites stilled all the people, saying, ‘Be quiet, for this day is holy; do not be grieved.’ And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them.’
Nehemiah 8:1-12 NRSVA
Sometimes life is far from easy. Sometimes life seems so full of mourning and loss that I don’t know which way to look. I lift my eyes and all I see is grief, so great that it fills the sky. Grey upon grey it falls like rain, pounding the unyielding earth. I look to the hills. Where is my hope?
When the Israelites returned from exile they must have mourned for all they had lost, all that might have been. They wept when God’s word was spoken to them because they heard it with understanding. Sometimes it is only during these times of grief that we can begin to understand. We realise not only how fallen the world is, but how unworthy we are.
Yet God says do not weep. Do not mourn. We are called to rejoice, to share what we have with those who have none, because He has called today holy.
Yesterday, today, tomorrow I am redeemed. This is life with Christ. One day at a time.