DAY 18 NEHEMIAH 12:27-47

18AND THEY OFFERED GREAT SACRIFICES THAT DAY AND REJOICED, FOR GOD HAD MADE THEM REJOICE WITH GREAT JOY; THE WOMEN AND CHILDREN ALSO REJOICED. AND THE JOY OF JERUSALEM WAS HEARD FAR AWAY.

…at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem

Kind of reminds me of a wedding day. Everyone is ready for each participant to play their part. Scruffy brothers shine their shoes and volunteer to pick up elderly aunts. Bridesmaids bustle, groomsmen get solemn…everyone looks for their cue. You want to get this special day just right. If you never in your life kneeled at a prayer rail you are willing to today because that is “how it’s done.”

The people in all the cities sought out the Levites to lead them to the celebration. The singers gathered with their instruments, the priests and Levites purified – first themselves and then the people and then the gates and the wall. In official procession the two choirs lead the leaders around the city, walking on the wall. One group going north and one going south until they met at the house of God. As they walked the choirs sang praise and offered thanksgiving to God. At their meeting, great sacrifices were offered and songs were sung. And the hearts of all – men, women and children – were made glad. And they felt God in their midst and their joy rang for miles.

I can just feel being caught up in the whole ceremony and celebration and meaning. It is like a wedding – the Jews making themselves ready, making their vows, restarting a new way of life in union with God. The whole thing marks a day they will remember.

Personally I’m not much for formal celebrations that mean you have to dress up. I think it’s the awkward clothes and uncomfortable shoes. But I am one for vows of loyalty, marking occasions and making memories. I want to be on the record with my people. I want them to know the joy they are to me. I don’t want them to ever forget:  I.AM.FOR.YOU.

I think this is how God might have felt on this dedication day. “These are my people and I am for them.”

Lord, I am grateful for your never ending love, your patience, your forgiveness – your unsurpassed loyalty.  That word loyalty might not matter to some but You know it matters to me. Today Lord I will celebrate YOU! I will lean in and embrace joy even when so much I see and hear is far from joyful. Nehemiah said it – “the joy of the Lord shall be your strength.” If your joy is the prescription for endurance – for me and for others – then use me to get the message out. Amen.

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