It was June of 2020 that we started meeting outside for our worship services after two months of gathering online only. To say that meeting outside has been a challenge is an understatement. Each Sunday I look out on people who are cold, or trying to avoid the sun, and attempting to keep their kids from being too squirmy. It’s a far cry from the friendly confines of our Worship Center. And yet, there is something beautiful about being able to gather with the people of God amidst challenging circumstances and conditions. It reminds us that we are part of a long line of followers of Jesus who gathered in catacombs, and homes, and fields to hear the Scriptures and learn to practice the way of Jesus. Comfort hasn’t always been a characteristic of Christian worship.
One of the things that impresses me about the people of Jerusalem during Nehemiah’s time is their hunger for the Scriptures. Nehemiah 8 recounts that their ferocious desire to hear from God caused them to stand outside for 6 hours listening to the reading of the Scriptures. Listen to the way Nehemiah 8:3 describes their devotion,
And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law.
I’m sure there were some who were staring into the sun. I’m confident that there were others who were cold. I’m quite certain that there were kids making a ruckus. However, they showed up, leaned in, and were attentive to the Word of the Lord. They postured themselves to hear and understand what God was saying to them.
The Jerusalemites were a people devoted to God and their devotion was displayed through their attentiveness to the Scriptures. They heard the Word and responded to it – both in celebration and repentance. I believe the same challenge is in front of us today. Whether we gather in person or online, the question we must wrestle with is: do we have that same kind of devotion to God and to Holy Scripture?
I want to challenge you to seek God through his Scriptures. I want to call on you to posture your heart before him just like the people of Jerusalem did. Remember, we are called not just to be hearers of the Word, but also doers of the Word. Spend some time today and think about how Jesus is inviting you to celebration and repentance through his Scriptures.
Pastor Ryan Paulson