~by Pastor Mike Middaugh
9 Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and teacher of the Law, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, “This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep.” For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law. 10 Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:9-10
In the 8th chapter of the Old Testament book of Nehemiah the people rededicate themselves to God and to his Word. The opening chapters tell the story of Nehemiah gathering together the outcasts and exiles of Jerusalem and leading them to rebuild the wall and restore the city. As the wall is completed, the people gather together in the presence of God to again hear his word and commit themselves to being his people.
This is a story of renewal. The Old Testament is filled with stories like this. Times when, for various reasons, the people are called to refocus their commitment to God and to each other. They once again consider all that God has promised and dedicate their future to his work.
Calvary is in a season of renewal as well. Over the last few years we have been busy accomplishing tasks that needed to done in for a new season of ministry to be possible. Now we are ready for something bigger. You are hopefully aware that we are carefully considering a new capital campaign with the goal of modernizing our building and providing a more usable space for ministry. And not just a building, but a new set of goals and initiatives as a congregation – a new season of ministry for the church. Starting with a Voters’ Assembly this Sunday, the details of this plan will begin to emerge over the coming months. Please keep this process in your prayers.
Our individual lives may from time to time need renewal as well. I think of all the snow that just fell over the weekend. For many of us this storm created forced downtime – we could not go about the normal routines of our lives. I used some of that time to consider what I hope to accomplish in the days and weeks ahead, to make some new commitments, hoping to emerge from the melting snow with a sense of personal renewal.
And this is also what we do each Sunday as we make our confession before God. We speak words of penitence and allow God to take from us the burden of past sins. The absolution words of forgiveness wash over us showing that God is active in our lives regularly recreating our broken hearts and drawing us to himself as cleansed people.
We are a people of renewal. And this is not a bad thing, but a promise. A constant reminder that our God is patient and persistent with his people. He loves us even in our need to regularly be recreated – that is what Jesus came to show. His was a one-time sacrifice that we experience in an ongoing way proving out the deep and awesome love of our God.
I hope you will join me in embracing this life-cycle of renewal – with our God, in our personal lives, and as a church. Ours is a God who makes all things new. One day, in God’s time, we will see the ultimate fulfillment of these words.
Create in me a clean heart O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51