I have challenged my congregation to read through the Bible this year. As such, I am preaching through the Bible. We will have Christmas in August. Until then, we are looking at the rich traditions of the Hebrew canon.
The sermon this week came from the Book of Nehemiah. My sermon was structured around the passage 5:6-13. In that passage, Nehemiah rebukes those who are gaining large profits off the backs of those who are less fortunate. I must admit that I was quite shocked by some of the research that I found regarding this passage. I dismissed the interpretations that seemed to evaluate the passage as no more than a way to extract money out of church members.
I focused on the issue of the community, as a whole, being called to rebuild portions of the wall. It would have taken forever for only one small segment of the community to build. The prophet Nehemiah challenges everyone to work together. We must all do our part to renew our churches, both physically and spiritually.
My church is at a crossroads right now. We are small, but full of limitless possibilities. The need to address those things which prevent us from building our sections of the walls of our church are the very things that keep us from growing. I am not talking about simply growing numbers, but also growing hearts.
I challenge myself on a daily basis to search my own heart and see if there are any places that prevent me from allowing God to rebuild those places in my life which need rebuilding. I face this challenge as I search for God in simple quiet moments. I listen for that still small voice which encourages me to live beyond anything I could ever imagine.