Pray with me.
The following sermon is being brought to you by my biases, my interests, my knowledge, and my dramatic sensibilities.
Today we will not read the scripture. Today we will hopefully make sense of the scripture in a way that will bring it to life for us, so that we can apply it to our current situation in this very church. I know that this is the goal each Sunday, but I want to be explicit today that this is what I am trying to do. Today we will ENACT scripture, hopefully for our benefit.
Sometimes people struggle to understand the Bible, and they feel like they aren’t really a GOOD CHRISTIAN if they don’t. However, the Bible is a collection of different types of literature - each having its own purpose. So, in the same way that we don’t read the phone book for inspiration, we are going to use the scripture today, in the way it’s intended, for information to assist us in our current situation.
Let me give you a quick example to make sure you get where I am going: a recipe is essentially a list with information. You use the list part at the store to gather what you need, and then the directions at home to assemble the parts in order that you make a satisfying meal.
So lists are not essentially inspirational, unless we know how to interpret the data. The results of using the information found in a list can be very satisfying. We’ll come back to that thought in a moment or two.
Now, why am I specifically claiming that today’s word is for us in the here and now? Well, we are in a state of change at the Village church. We are building a relationship with a new pastor, as our founding pastor recently stepped down from ministry here at the Village. Before Cheri left us, we had begun a discussion about the fact that our numbers at the Village had been dropping. We had several discussions about events to invite people to the church. And yet, our numbers had been dropping… leaving gaps where they had previously stood and served. In addition, we have been discussing some people in the church feeling burned out, over taxed and that some do all the work here, and how do we deal with that?
So, now we have to look at a project that was undertaken by an incredibly prayerful and organized leader… my main man, Nehemiah.
The walls – a symbol of strength and protection - had been down for 152 years. After Nehemiah mourns, prays, and comes up with a plan; He asks for safe passage to go survey the damage. Which brings us to chapter 3 of Nehemiah… and so I have to issue an activity warning… I am going to need YOUR help.
This list, which seems uninteresting, is more informational BECAUSE of the same details it drops into the regularity of a work order…
It is a list of who does what… but it is also a fairly repetitive piece of informational text. And yet… within it there are nuggets or gems of information which we may never have noted because we would be put off by the dullness of the majority of it.
I have some index cards and I would like you to write on this what your name is (and if you so choose, your heritage, or lineage) and then I want you to write what you understand your role to be in building the Village.
So Nehemiah begins, I’ve taken the liberty to reformat the text in such a way to see it for the list it is. Also, because we are not doing a genealogy study today, I’ve removed all the ‘son of’ references, except where that’s the only way we know them:
1. High priest Eliashib + fellow priests
a. PROJECT rebuild Sheep Gate: Consecrated it + set up its doors
b. Consecrated to Tower of the Hundred and Tower of Hananel.
2. Men of Jericho built next to Eliashib, etc.
3. Zaccur built
4. Sons of Hassenaah
a. PROJECT build Fish Gate: lay beams, set up doors, bolts + bars
5. Meremoth made repairs
6. Meshullam made repairs
7. Zadok made repairs
8. Tekoites made repairs
but their nobles would not put their shoulders to the work of their Lord.
9. Joiada + Meshullam
a. PROJECT repair Old Gate: lay beams, set up doors, bolts + bars.
10. Melatiah (the Gibeonite) + Jadon (the Meronothite) + Gibeon & Mizpah men under jurisdiction of the governor of the province Beyond the River
11.Uzziel GOLDSMITH made repairs
12.Hananiah PERFUMER made repairs
a. PROJECT restore Jerusalem as far as the Broad Wall
13.Rephaiah made repairs.
14.Jedaiah made repairs opposite his house
15.Hattush made repairs.
a. PROJECT repair second section
b. PROJECT repair Tower of the Ovens
17.Shallum made repairs, he and his daughters
18.Hanun + inhabitants of Zanoah
a. PROJECT rebuild Valley Gate: set up doors, bolts + bars
b. PROJECT Repair a thousand cubits of the wall
c. PROJECT complete wall to Dung Gate
a. PROJECT repair the Dung Gate: set up doors + bolts + bars
a. PROJECT repair Fountain Gate: Rebuild and cover; set up doors, + bolts, + bars
b. Build wall of the Pool of Shelah of the king’s garden, to stairs that go down from the City of David.
a. PROJECT repair graves of David to artificial pool + house of warriors
22.Levites made repairs
24.Hashabiah made repairs for his district.
25.Hashabiah’s kin made repairs
a. PROJECT repair another section opposite ascent to armory at Angle
a. PROJECT repair another section Angle to door of Eliashib’s house
a. Repaired another section from Eliashib’s door to end of his house
30.Priests, the men of the surrounding area, made repairs.
31.Benjamin and Hasshub made repairs opposite their house.
32.Azariah made repairs beside his house
33.Binnui repaired another section
a. Specifically: from house of Azariah to Angle and corner
34.Palal repaired opposite Angle and tower projecting from the upper house of the king at the court of the guard.
35.Pedaiah + temple servants living on Ophel made repairs
a. STOP at point opposite the Water Gate on east + projecting tower
36.Tekoites repaired another section
a. opposite great projecting tower to wall of Ophel.
a. PROJECT repair above Horse Gate
b. Take section opposite your own house.
38.Zadok made repairs opposite his own house.
39.Shemaiah the keeper of the East Gate, made repairs.
40.Hananiah repaired another section.
41.Meshullam made repairs opposite his living quarters.
42.Malchijah, a goldsmith
a. PROJECT repair to house of temple servants and house of merchants
b. Stop opposite the Muster Gate, include upper room of the corner
43.Goldsmiths and merchants make repairs
a. PROJECT upper room of the corner to Sheep Gate
Now, given that the walls had been down for 152 years, and there were over 40 sections of wall that were identified as needing some level of repair, isn’t it amazing that what had been in disrepair for so long was replaced in just 52 days?
As the Village church, we meet in this space, and today we are going to identify that our walls are down. We have been lacking in strength and protection and we need to all stand and do our part. Symbolically I would like the Lead Team to first take a place around the wall. And then others fill in the gaps. Let’s see how BIG we can make our circle. Identify the gaps that exist. We are in this ministry, this little place of god’s work on earth. And we need to stand next to each other to fulfill what God has called us to do.
My name is Rosie Best, and I hope God approved this message.