Time to Listen

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Neh. 1-1:11Rev. 5:11-6:11Matt. 13:18-23

All Faithful Departed (All Souls’)

Nehemiah is one of those books that is so often overlooked.  In the Book of Ezra we saw the rebuilding of the temple, now in Nehemiah we see the coming together of a city. O how I pray this prayer daily!  Our country is in so much need of dialogue and coming together.

In Nehemiah, it is more than a rebuilding of the city walls, but a rebuilding of trust, and a restoring of a people.  Strike a little close to home?  In our churches and in our nation a need to rebuild trust and restore our lives together is tantamount.

In today’s reading, Nehemiah, hearing some of the recent attacks on Jerusalem, prays that he has success in rebuilding the city walls, and coming to terms with the Persian king.  Nehemiah is a Jew who has risen to a high office in the Persian administration, and there are hopes that he can pull some strings to allow for the Promised Land to be restored to peace and prosperity.

Where is our Nehemiah?  Certainly many of the current leaders in Washington have lost our trust.  I have not seen approval ratings this low for our leaders in my lifetime – and that’s a long time.

This country is hungry for the world to be a better place.  I would also argue, despite the incredible divisiveness that I see, that this country is also hungry for coming together.

Our churches are also often hotbeds of debate and fracture.

What is missing in the midst the debate?  The spirit of Nehemiah.

“Upon hearing these words I sat down and wept, and mourned for days, fasting and praying before the God of heaven.  I said, ‘O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him, and keep his commandments; let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer of your servant…, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you.  Both I and my family have sinned.”

There is humility in Nehemiah’s leadership.  This is something we MUST look for as we face a time to turn the page and chose new leaders.

For Nehemiah there is also an earnest desire to keep in touch with the God who sustains all things.  Are our churches being humble in the midst of discord?

In short, NO.  I encounter a lot of blowhards as a Mid Council Leader.  Perhaps at times I am one of those blowhards.  At every turn, as leaders, we must take time to listen to our fellow brothers and sisters?

We must have patience and trust – not in ourselves, but in God who can transform this miserable mess we have made of our world and our churches.  And that time, I sense, is now.

-Matt

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