Scripture: Nehemiah 8:1-3, 9-12
All the people gathered together into the square before the Water Gate. They told the scribe Ezra to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the Lord had given to Israel. Accordingly, the priest Ezra brought the law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could hear with understanding. This was on the first day of the seventh month. He read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the book of the law. And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept when they heard the words of the law. Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions of them to those for whom nothing is prepared, for this day is holy to our Lord; and do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” So the Levites stilled all the people, saying, “Be quiet, for this day is holy; do not be grieved.” And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them.
O God who calls us to joy, we give you thanks for your Word and for your welcome. We are grateful that no matter what we do or how far we stray from the path, you call us back to you, back to joy and back to faithfulness. Amen.
Ways to Reflect:
Listen to or sing “All Who Hunger” from the Faith We Sing #2126
This video of “All Who Hunger” has the lyrics below it. As you sing, what connections can you make to the text of Nehemiah?
Play (touch): Legos
The story of Nehemiah is the story of a people who have to rebuild that which was destroyed. The people of God were in exile in Babylon for many years and had just returned to their home in Jerusalem. Earlier in the book, we learn that they rebuilt the wall around their city, the very special temple, and started to rebuild homes. Use legos to construct what you think Jerusalem might have looked like once rebuilt.
Taste: The Foods of Sukkoth
Later in this chapter, we learn that the people go to taste and eat foods as part of a Sukkoth celebration, or festival of the booths. This festival typically takes place during autumn and is a celebration of the harvest. Even though it is spring, make one of your favorite fall dishes as a family and then go outside to eat it. Praise God before eating and remember the joy that the people were called to when they ate in this passage of Nehemiah.
Watch: Babette’s Feast (1987)
During the late 19th century, a strict religious community in a Danish village takes in a French refugee from the Franco-Prussian War as a servant to the late pastor’s daughters. The woman, Babette, prepares an incredible feast that reminds the community of God’s love and brings about reconciliation.
Smell: A meal you can make for those experiencing homelessness
In the directions to the people, Ezra and Nehemiah said to bring a portion of food to those for whom no food had been prepared. Some people think this may have been people in poverty. We have lots of opportunities to feed people who experience homelessness. Contact Pastor Stacey for more information at email@example.com.