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Ne1-2 More lamenting. This is a way God's heart is known to us. Sometimes there need be no struggle in discerning the right and the good, for the Holy Spirit breaks out in us a lament over brokenness, which should be resource and motivation enough. We cannot be accountable for what we cannot discern, but to fail to respond to God's prompting is to be ugly and small and dead. To seek God only to not see it through is the greatest tragedy perhaps. Nehemiah demonstrates that faithfulness begets faithfulness and is possible. Stop doubting, and believe. God in our proclamations, God in our secrets, God in our sadness, God in our work..
Ne3-4 Of 3, there is a redeeming of work, when it is done so, rather as Cool Hand Luke sanding the road, there is a rhythm to the muscling in alongside, above him and the other and after and then and so. Oh a rush and a push, dear brothers and sisters.. Then, of 4, of that which is true in pantomimes, Sanballat he's behind you.. We live in such a world, where we would do well to see in higher contrast the forces that conspire to 'cause confusion' by force of weapons of mass muddling, by an assault on language itself.. That our yes should be yes is a military imperative. So, with courageous unambiguity, go, be unconfused in this: our God is great and awesome, he is, he is, he is, and our God will fight for us, he will, he will, he will. So build, rebuild, the unbuildable.
Ne5-6 I feel like I'm reading Nehemiah anew. I forget this hero of faith, a model of one who convicts, communes and compassion cares for with those with whom he shares his life and work. Able to speak authoritatively about the wrongness of wrong, and able to model and instigate a better way. This is a way to walk in, the forfeit of our own rights, the cancelling of debts owed to us, the sharing of our food, a happy feasting image. To honour God thus is to take part in saving the world. This a hard road, people tried to kill him y'know. But what a way. Let's let's.
Ne7-8 Should we number ourselves? Being and times-tables.. We should number ourselves, in accountancy-as-worship, for by numbers God makes himself faithfully known by his promise to multiply. .. 'Faithful and God-fearing..' necessary and sufficient to govern a city. .. Celebration. God is this and not that, here and not there, he inspires and enables, event and place, specific and intentional. We, exiles, ought to celebrate, to re-centre our identity in The God who laughs Ps2v4, The God who rests Gn2v2, The God who dresses the lilies Mt6v30. Today reading Gottfried Semper: “..to perpetuate commemoratively a festive or religious act.. ..the idea for monumental art was in an analogous manner suggested by similar festive celebrations.. ..improvised scaffolding.. ..special splendour and frills that indicate more precisely the occasion for the festivity.. ..draped with carpets, dressed with bough and flowers.”
Ne9-10 Go through looking at all the divine verbs, summarised by v9 'heard' and v13 'spoke'. This is what I hope to articulate today, the God relationship is intersubjective, dialogical and alive, and this changes everything. Keep us alive and unabstracted in conversation with you, God, in confession, praise, remembrance and promise, responding to your creation, care, covenant, keeping. In thought, word and deed.
Ne11-12 What is a wall? Why do we sing? Where is Jerusalem? Who should we station there? Interesting that the Telegraph reports only one in ten tents at occupylondon is slept in. Perhaps a tangent. But the city is a difficult and dangerous place, with or without a tent, with or without a Georgian terrace. This ceremony of commissioning volunteers to the city for the city is something we could learn. Let us come to the city, a place of intensified brokenness and of centralised conflict and meet it with intensified worship and centralised compassion. Come prophets priests kings, be curbside prophets, street pastors and urban servant kings. Christian hedonist, rejoice with great joy, God is for your joy, moment by moment for your joy. Battle for your joy, study for your joy, protest capitalism for the joy, I adjure you, I enjoin you, live for the joy who is there and is not silent.
Ne13 Such passages about segregation do of course have things to remind us about holiness, and purity of heart, but let us also remember how a Jesus-shaped community transforms all this. This is a shadow of holiness and a shadow of community where these things in their fullness are as Jesus, who transgresses boundaries of native and foreigner. Jesus transforms our honest work and our serious Sabbathing with his words and his way. Jn6v29 Mt11v28