Getting back to church
The nation of Judah had been exiled from their home. Rounded up and herded off to Babylon. Now some of them had made it back home. Their capital city of Jerusalem lay in ruins. The center piece of the city and the center of worship, their temple, had been torn apart and burned.
What did they do?
They worked on and for rebuilding. It took labor effort and cooperation and coordination and it took money.
“When the seventh month came and the Israelites had settled in their towns, the people assembled together as one in Jerusalem. Then Joshua son of Jozadak and his fellow priests and Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and his associates began to build the altar of the God of Israel to sacrifice burnt offerings on it, in accordance with what is written in the Law of Moses the man of God. Despite their fear of the peoples around them, they built the altar on its foundation and sacrificed burnt offerings on it to the Lord, both the morning and evening sacrifices.”
Ezra 3:1-3 – NIV
Once the altar was rebuilt and sacrifices could be made once more, they turned their attention to the rebuilding of the temple.
“When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests in their vestments and with trumpets, and the Levites (the sons of Asaph) with cymbals, took their places to praise the Lord , as prescribed by David king of Israel. With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord: “He is good; his love toward Israel endures forever.” And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord , because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy. No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise. And the sound was heard far away.”
Ezra 3:10-13 – NIV
Praise erupted for the great God of their fathers who had preserved them, and brought them back home.
God is good. God is always worthy of praise. God is overflowing with love, displayed in his abundant and abounding grace and mercy. He showed us that in his sacrifice for us all. He loved us so much that He gave his only son that whosoever would believe on him…well here is the verse..”For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
John 3:16 – NIV
As I’m writing this it is the beginning of August 2020. Our church building has been closed since the beginning of the pandemic shut down. Through online technology We have maintained a service and weekly message. Last Sunday we had an outdoor service. Our congregation seemed to be starving for public worship. Having Church took on a whole new meaning and a bunch of people worked very hard to set it up and carry it out. It wasn’t a passive activity, it was a choice to do it and then a ton of work to pull it off but our worship resounded throughout the neighborhood our church building sits in.
Now more than ever, at least more than in my life time, having church, being in a public worship service is an active act of my will. How much work will I do just so I can worship my God? How much effort is he worth? There is a risk of exposure, exposing myself to a virus yes, and also exposing myself publicly and purposefully in my worship of my God. Our church leadership did everything possible to keep the setting safe for all who participated.
God is always worthy of our worship and our praise. Even in and maybe especially in a pandemic. Church is different now. It is more active. More of a conscious choice and a conscious effort.
Because of what I read this morning and what I experienced last Sunday, I want to be involved in the rebuilding of worshipping my God. The people of God who returned from Babylon couldn’t be passive, they had to jump in with hands and feet and wallet to make the temple worship happen. I may need to do something similar to be able to return to worship. I am committed to keeping all safety protocols in place for everyone’s safety.
Come, Let us worship our God together with shouts of praise! With cymbals and trumpets or whatever we have! God is worthy of our praise!