This morning’s Daily Office includes Ezra 3:1-13, which describes the beginning of rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem, following the return of Israelites from the Babylonian exile. In verses 10-13, the new foundation has been laid, and so the people gather for worship. A great shout rises up from among them. This great sound is marked by shouts of joy that the temple is being restored, but it also includes cries of agony and loss from those who remembered the temple as it had been before, in all its glory.
As we learn to be church together, our communities sometimes are divided into two camps: those who long for the way things used to be, and those who are certain a completely new thing is just what is needed. In Ezra we find a people who are building on the essentials of what they have known, but at the same time there is a sense that this is indeed a new temple. As we look to rebuild existing ministries or to begin something altogether “new,” we may be well served – or rather, we may serve well – by remembering the foundation that is essential, by remembering the church as it is modeled for us by the first followers of Jesus, in particular through the intimate house churches, described in the Book of Acts.
The foundation remains unchanged. But as we celebrate the expression of the Gospel as it emerges in and through those who gather now, let us acknowledge that some in our midst cannot help but struggle with a sense of loss. Let us remember that as new life emerges, it does so on the heels of death. With celebration at the emergence of something new, there also comes a sense of loss. Let us be gentle with one another as we journey forward.
Small groups forming for community, Bible study and worship in St. Augustine World Golf Village. For details, send a message through the St. Clare of Assisi Facebook page or a Twitter message to StClareofAssisi.)
(photo taken in chapel at Epworth By-the-Sea)