Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10
When the seventh month came and the Israelites had settled in their towns, all the people assembled as one man in the square before the Water Gate. They told Ezra the scribe to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded for Israel.
So on the first day of the seventh month Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand. He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of men, women, and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law.
Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up. Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, “Amen! Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.
They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was being read.
Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, “This day is sacred to the Lord you’re God. Do not mourn or weep.” For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.
Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to the Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
About 100 years earlier the exiled Jewish people were permitted to return to their homeland of Jerusalem where they had rebuilt their temple, but had failed to build the Wall to fortify and protect it. Nehemiah prayed and God permitted Nehemiah and his people to rebuild the Wall in 52 days. In today’s scripture The Book of the Law is read from daybreak until noon and the people respond with weeping and repentance. They are told not to grieve but to rejoice that the joy of the Lord is their strength.
Father help us to proclaim your word in a way that is easily understood and that people will respond with repentance and joy. We praise your holy name and desire that our lives will be completely restored to you. In Jesus’ name we ask. Amen.