Faithful God, help me to remember that I am a pilgrim in this life and not to make this home.
Read NEHEMIAH 8:13–18
 On the second day of the month, the heads of all the families, along with the priests and the Levites, gathered around Ezra the teacher to give attention to the words of the Law.  They found written in the Law, which the LORD had commanded through Moses, that the Israelites were to live in temporary shelters during the festival of the seventh month  and that they should proclaim this word and spread it throughout their towns and in Jerusalem: “Go out into the hill country and bring back branches from olive and wild olive trees, and from myrtles, palms and shade trees, to make temporary shelters”-as it is written.  So the people went out and brought back branches and built themselves temporary shelters on their own roofs, in their courtyards, in the courts of the house of God and in the square by the Water Gate and the one by the Gate of Ephraim.  The whole company that had returned from exile built temporary shelters and lived in them. From the days of Joshua son of Nun until that day, the Israelites had not celebrated it like this. And their joy was very great.  Day after day, from the first day to the last, Ezra read from the Book of the Law of God. They celebrated the festival for seven days, and on the eighth day, in accordance with the regulation, there was an assembly. Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectHow responsive were the people?
Tents are not necessarily what they used to be! They can be little havens of modern conveniences. I suspect my first “temporary shelter,” a blanket hung over the washing line, was rather more in keeping with the ones in our reading today. Once again we find Ezra surrounded by a rapt audience (13). The people are actively looking for visual ways they can live out God’s Word in their lives. And they find that his word for the present is tied up firmly in their history (14,15). So they go out into the hills and bring back branches to make shelters, like those their ancestors inhabited in the wilderness (16). This is a symbolic act, celebrating what God has done in past generations of their people. Such symbolism can still have a place today as we bear witness to what God has done, and will do, in our lives. A simple act, even just being in a place, can make a big impact. There is a pastor whose habit was to hike and sleep out as he sought God for fresh vision and breath. There is nothing to stop us from using our own imaginations in our walk with God.
Looking to God for creative insight, decide on a symbolic act to celebrate what God has done.
Lord, I pray that I will always be ready to follow You in my thoughts, my words and my actions.
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