ISSL Reflections March 20 2022 Ezra 6:13–22 Post 3

Have you ever experienced anything similar to what this passage describes in gatherings and/or worship in your faith community?

Ezra 6:13-22 (New Revised Standard Version)

Then, according to the word sent by King Darius, Tattenai, the governor of the province Beyond the River, Shethar-bozenai, and their associates did with all diligence what King Darius had ordered. So the elders of the Jews built and prospered, through the prophesying of the prophet Haggai and Zechariah son of Iddo. They finished their building by command of the God of Israel and by decree of Cyrus, Darius, and King Artaxerxes of Persia; and this house was finished on the third day of the month of Adar, in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius.

The people of Israel, the priests and the Levites, and the rest of the returned exiles, celebrated the dedication of this house of God with joy. They offered at the dedication of this house of God one hundred bulls, two hundred rams, four hundred lambs, and as a sin offering for all Israel, twelve male goats, according to the number of the tribes of Israel. Then they set the priests in their divisions and the Levites in their courses for the service of God at Jerusalem, as it is written in the book of Moses.

On the fourteenth day of the first month the returned exiles kept the passover. For both the priests and the Levites had purified themselves; all of them were clean. So they killed the passover lamb for all the returned exiles, for their fellow priests, and for themselves. It was eaten by the people of Israel who had returned from exile, and also by all who had joined them and separated themselves from the pollutions of the nations of the land to worship the Lord, the God of Israel. With joy they celebrated the festival of unleavened bread seven days; for the Lord had made them joyful, and had turned the heart of the king of Assyria to them, so that he aided them in the work on the house of God, the God of Israel.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic many faith communities elected for a time to discontinue physical, in-person gatherings and worship. Many moved to virtual gatherings.

I have heard a number of people speak of how “excited” and “happy” they were when they were able to gather in-person once again in their physical worship places.

Have you had an experience like that?

I know of other folk for whom their familiar worship spaces had grown sterile and perhaps “cold.” Then one day, it happened. In the familiar place (or another) – the joy and sense of holiness and presence returned.

Has that ever been your experience?

Take some time to travel in your heart and mind to those “places” and “spaces” that bring joy, worshipfulness, and a sense of the presence of the Holy.

{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

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