Martin Luther King delivering his “I Have a Dream” speech
For Sunday, January 24, 2010
Third Sunday After the Epiphany
The people of Israel are just settling back into their towns and homes after their long exile in Babylon. Ezra, a priest and scribe, is asked to read the Bible of the time, the Law, to a large assembly in a square before the Water Gate in Jerusalem. Ezra proceeds to read from sunrise until noon.
Imagine that for years you had lost your identity and your sense of place and suddenly you found both of these restored. This is what was going on. This is why the people “listened attentively” for six hours of Bible reading. So much for the 5-minute devotional. Our faith is not something to sprinkle on our morning cereal as a mere teaspoon of sugar. It is rather the touchstone for all we are and do. Amidst all the Tweets, Facebook walls, and Linked In updates do you feel somewhat lost? Let us make a prayerful commitment to ground ourselves in God’s Word for whatever time is required that we might experience our Father’s grace and peace.
The peoples’ reaction to the reading was to weep. They realized how far they had strayed from The Intention. They were so spiritually thirsty that they had forgotten what it was to have a drink of water.
What was God’s response? Did he say, “Well, you should be weeping, because you have really blown it!” No: “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (v. 10). “Be still, for this is a sacred day” (v. 11).
So many of us live frenetic lives out of a misguided sense of what ministry is all about. True ministry is about moving into the joy and peace of Shalom, and then extending this blessing to others. This is precisely what happened here: “Then all the people went away to eat and drink, and to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them” (v. 12).
God is saying, “Are there things that need to change in your life? Of course. But know this: my peace and joy are here for you, and this is where it begins.”
Thank you, Father. Grace and peace to you today.