Imagine if an enemy invaded our city, destroyed most of the homes and sent us all to live in exile. While in exile we were not allowed to practice our religion. Then after a few generations, our children’s children were allowed to return to find this beautiful church in ruins.
Among the ruins they find a Lectionary containing our scripture readings; readings they have never heard before. That’s what’s happening in the Book of Nehemiah. The people are hearing the Law of the Lord read to them for the first time.
They understand that the scroll contains divine wisdom. They commit themselves to following the Law of the Lord. In their attempt to follow the Law of the Lord, they struggle with the law and fall short.
Isn’t it the same with us. We understand that God calls us to do something or that God asks us to live a certain way or that God wants us to answer a certain call and we can’t do it. It’s just too hard.
There is some guilt or shame or sadness over that simple fact that God is asking something of us and we can’t do it.
The disciples were ordinary folk like us. They had a very difficult time doing what Jesus asked of them as well. They failed pretty regularly. This is certainly not a reason to lose hope.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because the Lord has anointed me. We were all anointed at our baptism, The Spirit descended upon each of us bringing divinely given gifts and talents, empowering us and giving each of us a task to fulfill.
When someone is anointed, it means that they have been given a gift. When the Lord anoints, the Lord empowers. The Holy Spirit is divine power dwelling in us. We are always conscious of our weakness, but we must also be aware that the power of Jesus resides in us.
The church represents the collection of all of our divinely giving gifts. Together, Saint Paul says, we are like a body, different people with different gifts all working together as one.
All of us have a small part to play and each part is essential. All of us together make up the one Body of Christ.
We may be weak. We may come up short. We may even fail. But we are all still anointed, We are all still gifted. We are all still empowered.
And we too hear the words written on the scroll. Those words say to us, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon you, because the Lord has anointed you. Do not be saddened by this day, for rejoicing in the Lord must be your strength.”