Updated: Sep 30, 2019
As I enter into prayer, I am reminded to respect the reading. The Bible is not a dead story but a living testament to what God has done, will do, and is doing. And so, I need to quiet my thoughts and enter into the story that is read for today. Some passages from scripture, like today's Ezra, are easier to enter because they are very descriptive. I can see the court in which the proclamation to rebuild the Temple is being issued. I can imagine a community coming together to rebuild not only a building but their past and their culture. And I can imagine the day of dedication as people brought what they had to honor God.
How can I do all of this? After years of studying the Bible, reading books about the Jewish people, and praying over passages in preparation for teaching and preaching, the Bible becomes a vibrant and active world that you can easily enter into when you wish. This is the importance of Bible Study. The Bible does not grant salvation for only your personal relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ can come to the door of salvation. Nor is Bible study important so that you can memorize the "right" translation or provide a source to justify your belief or ethical position. If the Bible is a living word, than studying the Bible equips you to better understand the word that is being spoken.
Reflecting on the people who came together to rebuild "the House of God", I begin to wonder if there are "Houses" that need rebuilding today? Does Christianity reflect a house that Jesus would live in? Does my denomination or even my local congregation? Do these houses look lived in by happy families or neglected like monuments to generations past? Do we need to rebuild the houses of God in our world or do we need to come together as a community and build one house? As all these questions arise in prayer, the picture of an abandon church not far from here comes to mind and the words of Jesus to St. Francis, "Rebuild my church".
As the time of prayer draws to a close, the image of the house becomes far more personal. Jesus describes his body as the "Temple" that would be rebuilt in three days and Paul reminds us that with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that we are also "houses of God". As I reflect on the state of my soul and my daily routine, does my house need a little more TLC? The story of Ezra just went from being a nice story in history to a very intimate challenge to care for the house of God I was born with. Before we valiantly go off to rebuild the Christian church or our denominational church, we may want to take a moment in prayer to consider the condition of our own house of God.