Today's Lectionary Text
So I said, “The thing that you are doing is not good. Should you not walk in the fear of our God, to prevent the taunts of the nations our enemies? Moreover I and my brothers and my servants are lending them money and grain. Let us stop this taking of interest. Restore to them, this very day, their fields, their vineyards, their olive orchards, and their houses, and the interest on money, grain, wine, and oil that you have been exacting from them.” Then they said, “We will restore everything and demand nothing more from them. We will do as you say.” And I called the priests, and made them take an oath to do as they had promised. I also shook out the fold of my garment and said, “So may God shake out everyone from house and from property who does not perform this promise. Thus may they be shaken out and emptied.” And all the assembly said, “Amen,” and praised the Lord. And the people did as they had promised.
As we began this week by celebrating Martin Luther King Jr., we come to the end of the week with a scripture passage that is bold, forthright and full of justice. The governor of Judah in 445 B.C., Nehemiah, brings to light the practices of many in his province. He graciously and directly names the cries that he has heard from the women and men in the area with “What you are doing is not right …”
He uses his position of power to name a currency of truth. Listening to the people who had less power, the workers and the women. He heard their cries and asked questions to persuade the powerful to examine what they were doing. Then, he gathered the priests and the nobles and asked them to take an oath to do what they promised. And they did.
As Nehemiah tells his first-person narrative story in what scholars call “Nehemiah’s Memoir,” he recounts his leadership in reconstructing Jerusalem. Throughout the book, Nehemiah names four prayers containing the word, “Remember.”
We are in positions of power all around us. On this Saturday, may we be aware of the neighbor. To hear the cries of the people and to graciously name the truth that we see. May we raise questions, allow the people who have the least amount of power in the room to speak first, and to pledge that we can do life differently. May we remember who we are and who we are called to be in our communities.
-Rev. Nicole Conard
Young Adults & Campus Ministry Coordinator
For a link about Nehemiah’s and our leadership, check out: https://www.churchleadership.com/leading-ideas/ten-leadership-lessons-from-nehemiah/
Prayer for Reflection
O God, we remember who you are and who you call us to be. Help us to see around us the ways that your earth can look a more like your kingdom. We pray we may be the leaders you call us to be. Amen.
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