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Thought for the week - 23 January

Nehemiah 8:9b – 10 & 1Cor 12:12-31a

“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.”

In this passage we are not explicitly told why the people weep when they hear the words of the Law read out to them. It could well be the same as when Josiah heard the words of the Law that had been found in the temple – he wept because he realised that the people had wandered far from the Law of God. But here we do not know for sure. Nevertheless, they weep.

Last Sunday for me and for many of you, it was a moment of weeping. When things change, when relationships change, we often feel sad and weep. Weeping is not a bad thing; it is not bad to let our emotions out. I have been deeply moved by the messages I have received. But the weeping must not be the end of the story.

Nehemiah and Ezra reminded the people that they are truly blessed in their relationship with God, they remind them too that they are to celebrate that relationship and indeed pass the good news on to others.

My brothers and sisters, you have a choice – and I want you to make the right choice. We have three months together, and together we must make the most of that time. It must be a time of joyful preparation for the future. This is a wonderful parish, and we must all work hard to make sure that St Stephen’s remains a place of

  • discipleship of Our Lord,

  • the offering of worship,

  • proclaiming the Gospel and of fellowship.

And working hard means doing things, being willing to offer time, energy, and money to more than keep things going, rather to do things better than ever.

It will mean putting aside personal likes and desires for the good of the church in this place.

It will mean volunteering rather than thinking always that someone else will do it.

St Stephen’s will need workers, sidesmen, Churchwardens, PCC members, cleaners, and a whole host more.

In our second reading, St Paul makes it clear that there are no spare parts in the Body of Christ!

So, let us plan together for a bright future.

Maybe that’s the sort of thing Nehemiah’s people heard. Maybe that what made them weep!

Well, Do as Nehemiah tells you!

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.”


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