When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests in their vestments and with trumpets, and the Levites (the sons of Asaph) with cymbals, took their places to praise the Lord, as prescribed by David king of Israel. With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord:
“He is good;
his love toward Israel endures forever.”
And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy. No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise. And the sound was heard far away.
The people who had been in Exile came back. They rebuilt and they remembered. Back on the hills and dirt that they had been driven from they sang of God’s goodness, restored practices that had grown dormant, lit fires that had gone out, and brought offerings to the spot where the Temple had been and would be built again. When the new Temple foundation was marked out there were shouts of joy and weeping lament and it was hard to tell the difference. It seems the oldest ones remembered how it use to be and they remembered its destruction and the loss and their tears mixed with the shouts of joy on the hills of Jerusalem.
If live stream and virtual worship are the best choice for you and your family, rest assured we will not waver in our commitment to developing disciples to be deployed as blessings through these means. Many, however, have returned or are returning to in-person gatherings and it has been a sacred blessing to hear the songs of praise, the confessions of faith, and the sharing of burdens in the building grow louder. If you were here Sunday, you saw that mask wearing that had been 100% just a few weeks ago is now considerably lower. We have asked that when serving in the kid’s area that masks remain for one more Sunday. Beginning June 6th, we will move to mask optional throughout our buildings and ministries. I ask you to continue, as we have been throughout this challenging season, to be generous with others and compassionate and caring towards all. I am so proud of this community, our leaders, and staff for how we have navigated this wilderness journey. Thank you.
Ezra tells of Exiles who return to the place they had been driven from. The exiles went to work, reclaiming and restoring that which God had sent them to steward. When they get to the land they had hoped for, sung about and longed for, they knew that this was not the conclusion of the story.
Some things we believe are the finish line are instead a launching pad. What is ending is easier to see but it may not have near the power as that which begins - or perhaps most important (and most powerful) is that which has always been, is now and will be always.
He is good; his love endures forever,