01: Reading Ezra and Nehemiah After the Floods

This is the first installment of a weekly, year-long effort to hear God’s Word for St. Thomas’ as we re-build for His Glory.

As all of you are aware, we as a church are facing a long-term recovery from the damage Hurricane Harvey left last year. We look forward to some very exciting restoration and renewal but we still feel the toll this past year has taken. We have been humbled in many ways, not least in the outpouring of support we received from those outside our walls. When we have brought to our knees, we look outside of ourselves to the Word of God. We do so now: what might the Word of God have to say to those of us who seek to rebuild?

In 538 BC, God stirred the heart of Cyrus the Great, King of Persia, and changed the lives and trajectory of the conquered Jewish exiles in the Babylonian Empire. They were a people who had been decimated and now heard the decree of the King that they might return to their land and rebuild.

The Books of Ezra and Nehemiah chronicle the return of the exiles in what they understood as their Second Exodus. The former exiles will rebuild the Temple and the walls around Jerusalem. They will also reform around the Mosaic Law, once again taking the mantle of “Priest Among the Nations”. It is from this rebuilding and reforming that the world into which Jesus was born came to be.

So what the Word of God have to say to those of us today who seek to rebuild? A great deal, it turns out. As we look to the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah in the light of the coming of Christ, we will allow these prophets to interpret us as we listen to a Divine Word from outside of ourselves and from outside of our time.