It’s funny how sometimes you can read God’s Word and not see what the Lord is trying to say to you. When I read today’s scriptures I sat back and scratched my head. What did this mean? Then the meaning jumped off the page at me. How incredibly timely and encouraging. In the Book of Ezra, the Israelites are returning to Jerusalem to rebuild the house of God. The psalmist proclaims, let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord. And in Luke, Jesus encourages his disciples saying, my mother and brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.
This last summer, my family, my brother and his family and my mom and dad all loaded into two cars and a van and drove south to Gulfport, Mississippi where we rented a beach house and cottage. I have to admit, when my dad first suggested a vacation in Mississippi, I had my doubts. When one thinks of Mississippi, one does not think of beautiful white sand beaches and palm trees. What a wonderful surprise. We toured the gulf coast and New Orleans and had a wonderful time. Incredible natural beauty. All sorts of history. A wonderful diversity of music and food. Warm and welcoming people. And then came Hurricane Katrina. The force of the hurricane and the images of the devastation are mind boggling. Scenes of people in horrible circumstances that produce fear, hopelessness and despair. Many places that I had visited were simply gone. And now, so many people, homeless and scattered to the winds. Seemingly no place to call home. How will they ever recover? How will they rebuild? Can they ever recover? Well, if one takes the Book of Ezra to heart, the answer is a resounding YES!
The Israelites had been conquered. The city of Jerusalem had been leveled. The house of God was destroyed. The Israelites were scattered to the winds or enslaved in Babylon. And yet, after years and years, they returned and rebuilt. And they celebrated the dedication of the house of God with joy. The rebuilding of New Orleans and the gulf coast will take years. To say it is a daunting task is an understatement. And that is where Christ’s words come in. My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it. The word of God is pretty clear on helping our neighbor. It’s easy to hear the words about helping your neighbor. However, acting on that takes another step. I would hope that all of us would hear a call to help our neighbors who have lost so much. As New Orleans and the gulf coast rebuild and the people return, I’m betting there will be many thanks offered to God and much celebration and joy.
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