‘If it please the king, and if your servant has found favor with you, send me to Judah, to the city of my ancestors’ graves, to rebuild it.’
Many of us are sent to rebuild. In today’s church climate we find ourselves leading in difficult times. The walls are crumbling, the symbols of the glory days gone, the people are discouraged and are not sure what to do about it. I wish I was as bold as Nehemiah.
Nehemiah could have stayed in exile enjoying his position in this new land. He had the ear of the king, was well respected, and could have easily never thought about the land of his ancestors. His love for this place of memory was so strong that he uses his influence to be allowed back to help rebuild a city, to rebuild a people.
Many times I thought about leaving the church. Maybe I would be more effective on behalf of the kingdom if I just left the church behind? I tell myself that it’s messy to be a part of it, there’s so much work that needs to be done in to restore it, and the people who are left might not even have the energy to work on the changes needed.
Many times I have made the decision to stay and lead. My baptism calls me back, the promise of God’s Spirit calls me back, the narrative of faith calls me back. I am reminded that the Spirit was called upon me to lead, to guide God’s people to rebuild, to remind them that the best days are ahead.
Rebuilding takes time. Relationships need to be built first, then the other rebuilding can take place. Stories help us remember what it needs to look like, what changes are needed, what needs to remain the same. Little by little the community begins to have life again.
During these times of uncertainty and reevaluation may we not loose courage. We must lead into the promise of an institution that was established by Christ to be the “salt & light” in the world. Rebuilding is needed but it won’t happen by itself, it takes our hands, our feet, our courage, our commitment, our memory, our life together. It takes our claiming the promise of the Spirit to the community of faith called the church.
Now, let us rebuild!