Ordering Our Lives – Reflection for 27 January 2019
As we come to our reading from Nehemiah, the wall around Jerusalem has been completed and those who have returned from exile have been registered according to their families. Now the people have gathered and Ezra brings out the Torah and reads to all the people. The Levites explain t
o people so that they understand the revelation of God in Torah. They hear of the mighty work of God that brought Israel out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. They hear the way God revealed to them the covenant by which they would live as His people and He would be their God. They saw the rebellion of their people that led them into exile and wept at their sin. They also saw the mercy and redemption of God that had brought them back to Jerusalem and restored the Temple and the city. The next day, they restore the festivals that the Torah commands so that they rehearse the works of God and do not forget.
If we look closely, we can see ourselves in these exiles. Even today as we encounter God’s revelation of Himself in the Bible, we encounter His mighty power and His loving-kindness. We see our own sin and rebellion, and we weep. We also encounter our own redemption and restoration, and we rejoice.
We also recognize our own propensity to forget the love of God in the business of our lives. Instead of the festivals of Israel, we observe the liturgical calendar and the festivals of the Christian life. In the first half of the year, beginning in Advent, we celebrate the life of Christ from Incarnation to Passion to Resurrection to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The second half of the year, beginning on Trinity Sunday, we celebrate the life of Christ in His Church. We use the liturgical colors to mark our passage through the year. Purple calls us to penitence. White celebrates the holiness of Christ. Red celebrates the power of the Holy Spirit and the blood of martyrs. Green represents the growth of our faith and the Church in the Kingdom.
At our annual meeting in August, I called us to be a parish committed to the Gospel, to prayer, and to community. We will be using the weekly reflections to explore these commitments according to the liturgical seasons. We started by exploring prayer in Advent. We will continue by reflecting on the proclamation, prediction, and prefigurement of the Gospel in the Old Testament lessons during Epiphany. We will move back to prayer for Lent and Holy Week. We will look again at the Gospel as we celebrate the season of Easter and the Feast of Pentecost. We will focus on life in community as we enter the second half of the year and the ordering of the church in ordinary time.
I pray that as we encounter God in Word and Sacrament week by week that like the exiles returning to Jerusalem we weep over our sin and rebellion, rejoice in our redemption through the mercy of God in Christ Jesus, and order our lives that so that we do not forget the steadfast love of God.