Weekly Reflection (NEW!)
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Read Nehemiah Chapter 8 in your Bibles.
We were all seated on the floor in the chapel. The only light came from the many candles flickering in the darkness. The scripture had been read; a silence observed; then the preacher began to read to us. She read The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstien, a childrenís book. There in the darkness the reading took on a calm, quiet, and peaceful feeling reminding me of all the times when people have read to me or when I have read to my children. Being read to is something that we never outgrow. We like it. It brings us comfort and solace. It gives us space to breathe and to reflect.
My children enjoy being read to. We have started reading together the Chronicles of Narnia. They canít wait to hear what happens next as we go through the books one chapter at a time. My wife likes for me to read to her at night. She relaxes and can easily got to sleep. Soon we will begin reading again our Advent devotional. When we visited my wifeís sisterís family over Thanksgiving, my brother-in-law read Green Eggs and Ham to my son and his cousins. I really enjoyed his rendition. The rhythm and the rhyme are like music.
In the passage from Nehemiah, all the wealthy and "important" people had been taken into exile in Babylon. Jerusalem had been destroyed. Nehemiah had been allowed to return in order to rebuild the walls and the Temple. The work is well underway, and now the people have all gathered to hear the scriptures read to them. In those days hardly anyone knew how to read and books (scrolls) were very rare and expensive. The people listened to the scribe, Ezra, read from early in the morning until midday. They listened to someone read for four or five hours! Others went through the crowds of the people interpreting all that had been read. The people wept and mourned when they heard and understood because of their ignorance of Godís love for them, but Ezra reassured them saying that the day was holy. Ezra told that they should rejoice and feast because the joy of the Lord was their strength. After the reading the people partied.
Throughout the season of Advent we will be reading about Christís coming both as a babe in a manger and as glorious lord of all. Then on Christmas Eve someone will read to you the story of Christís birth. In all this reading and hearing of the story take comfort and solace. Relax and be at peace. Let the reading of the story give you pause to reflect and ponder the meaning of Christís coming to you. Know that Godís love is for you and the joy of the Lord is your strength.
Pray that God will make your faith strong and your joy complete as the story of Christís coming is read to you.