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This week the Narrative Lectionary leads us to Ezra and a new beginning (Ezra 1:1-4; 3:1-4, 10-13). Last week the people in exile were being offered words of comfort and promise with Isaiah 40. They were promised a road home. This week the word comes that can actually go home and rebuild the temple. Indeed Cyrus commands them to build the temple.
You would think this is a story about full unrestrained JOY. Finally they can go home. Finally they can return to being the people of God and sing the songs of God in their homeland.
Temple - Foundation - Tears - Joy - Celebration
But when the temple foundation is laid there are tears. There is great joy and celebration to be sure, but there are also tears. People who are now old remember what was there in their youth, before the disaster came, before the world was changed. Do they weep because this new foundation reawakens that wound of seeing the destruction in the first place? Do they weep because they are sure that the grandeur that once was will never be fully replaced (the books of Ezra and Nehemiah show that the rebuilding project does not always go smoothly)? For whatever reason, they weep.
And then there is that last verse, the verse that tells us the sound of weeping was lost in the shouts of joy. OR possibly that the sounds of joy are lost in the sounds of weeping? It strikes me that periods of high emotion are like that at times. It also occurs to me that as people in community at times of transition need to listen carefully. We need to...
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I'm not always cranky, sometimes I'm actually running!