This month’s word, “celebration” has me pumped because I get to talk about my absolute, favorite dude from the Old Testament. NEHEMIAH! He was the man. He was courageous, intelligent and willing to speak God’s truth. He was on a mission to rebuild Jerusalem and he was making things happen left and right. After lots of hard work, Ezra, a priest and expert in the law enters the scene in Jerusalem. Everyone was settled in their towns and they gathered to listen to Ezra read the law aloud. He read the law for hours and as he spoke, people began crying out of guilt.
[pullquote width=”300″ float=”right”]It encourages me to celebrate side by side with others as we repent, grow, eat delicious food, cry and choose joy together! [/pullquote]In the midst of the weeping, Nehemiah changed the game. He spoke and altered the environment. The Bible tells us that Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)
The people had an appropriate reaction to mourn sin. Then they were encouraged to move on and celebrate God’s grace. They did just that. They ate delicious food. (There’s not much more I enjoy in life than delicious food!) They shared the goods with people that had none. The Bible tells us they celebrated with great joy! It was a holy day, a day for them to rejoice and party!
This story reminds me that as I repent, I can accept God’s forgiveness and then celebrate! I can choose great joy in his grace. It also highlights community. It encourages me to celebrate side by side with others as we repent, grow, eat delicious food, cry and choose joy together! Over time, I hope my community and celebration get deeper and deeper, as I choose God’s grace over my guilt.