Dear Friends in Christ,
“When the seventh month came-the people of Israel being settled in their towns- 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. This was on the first day of the seventh month” (Nehemiah 8:1-2).
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was a beloved French author who wrote the children’s book, Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince). He was also a pilot in the Free French Airforce and was shot down and killed by the Nazis while on a reconnaissance mission in 1944. From 1941-1943, Antoine and his wife lived in New York, where he wrote books and spoke passionately about the need for the United States to enter the war. He was a great speaker who knew how to cast a vision. In his book, The Wisdom of the Sands, he writes this, “If you want to build a ship, don’t summon people to buy wood, prepare tools, distribute jobs, and organize the work; rather teach them to yearn for the wide, open sea.”Antoine de Saint-Exupéry reminds us to ground the people God has called you to lead in a purpose that is bigger than themselves.
Nehemiah had a clear God given purpose… to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Though construction was not his main purpose. His main purpose was to rebuild God’s people into a community of faith. Nehemiah begins this rebuilding effort by enlisting the help of the scribe Ezra. Ezra turns to Scripture and begins to build God’s people through the hearing of God’s Word. And when you think about it, isn’t that where re-building and re-forming always begins for God’s people?
Martin Luther’s reforming movement was born out of a grounding in God’s Word, not to mention the work of Huss, Savonarola, and Calvin. The Wesley brothers, John and Charles, helped usher in a “Great Awakening” in England through preaching and hymnody. Preaching and hymnody that were deeply grounded in God’s Word.