So I am still stuck on this celebrating thing. Instead of Birthday Week, maybe I am having Birthday Month. Try it on for yourself. What all can you celebrate in a given month? It’s certainly a lot more positive than whining about life and aging and renewing your driver’s license, which I also get to do in the next couple weeks.
I am totally caught up in the book of Nehemiah this morning as I sit here with the love of my life in our local coffee shop. I am so moved by the restoration theme in this book. Those who have lost their homes and their hope come flooding back to Jerusalem to reestablish their faith and identity as God’s chosen people.
How often do we find ourselves far from HOME and HOPE needing the same type of renewal?
After Nehemiah orchestrated the rebuilding of the wall in Jerusalem he punctuated its completion with a massive assembly. Some 50,000 exiles return and gather to hear the reading of the Law. And it is a production. Ezra the priest stands up to read in the presence of “men and women and all who can understand.” Given the lack of a PA system, I am always astounded by addresses given to massive crowds in scripture. Following the reading, a number of listed people and the Levites “gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.”
What a role to play: Giving sense to scripture so God’s people can get a handle on his word. Isn’t this what we get on a given Sunday morning in our churches? I hope so. The response of the people is precious. They weep. Perhaps in repentance, perhaps just as an emotional response to God’s presence. And this is Ezra’s instruction and benediction to the people.
10Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Here you go.
EAT THE FAT AND DRINK THE WINE
This is the response to God’s word. This is the action point of the sermon. Sharing with those who don’t have. Eating and drinking with joy. Sounds like a party to me!
Like a lot of folks in the new year, I am trying a new eating regimen on for size. Quite literally if you think about it. Actually I’ve been at it for a couple months. Eating clean and eating different combinations of protein, vegetables, grains and fat depending on the day of the week. What I love about this plan is the weekend. Friday, Saturday and Sunday offer the most decadent options. I now anticipate the weekend in a new way.
How fitting. On Sunday, in celebration of hearing the Word, having someone give sense to it, and often being moved to tears in the great assembly of God’s people, how appropriate to then “eat the fat and drink the wine” in celebration of God’s provision. His provision is the opportunity to worship in community and to gain fresh understanding of his word. This is the joy of the Lord and in it we find strength.
As I celebrate on Sundays, in mind, soul, spirit and body, I am refreshed for the week. I have strength to face the Mondays that will inevitably come. This is a pattern that makes sense to me.
Instead of a linear line of food depravation in some desperate attempt to reshape my body, this regimen of mind and body offers a refreshing RHYTHM OF LIFE that invigorates me.
Once a week, we can “eat the fat and drink the wine,” share with the less fortunate and let the “joy of the Lord be our strength.”
Celebration is powerful.