For the past two or three years bits and pieces of the book of Nehemiah have randomly sprung to mind. The book tells the story of Nehemiah and the rebuilding of Jerusalem after it had been destroyed by different foreign powers. Within the story Nehemiah faces opposition to the rebuilding of the city and must depend on the rest of the community to band together to accomplish the goal. I think I like this story because it is a story about redemption, it is a story about the unending hope found in following God. Whatever has been torn down, can be built up again.
But I also love how it is not Nehemiah’s story, it is a story of a community. It is a story of a group of people coming together to see their community be reawakened with a fresh Spirit and fresh word from God. Suspense is provided in the story when opposition to the rebuilding of Jerusalem pops up. There is a particular section of the book I want to focus on and its found in chapter four verses fifteen through twenty where it says,
“When our enemies heard that their plot was known to us, and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to his work. 16 From that day on, half of my servants worked on construction, and half held the spears, shields, bows, and body-armor; and the leaders posted themselves behind the whole house of Judah, 17 who were building the wall. The burden bearers carried their loads in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and with the other held a weapon. 18 And each of the builders had his sword strapped at his side while he built. The man who sounded the trumpet was beside me. 19 And I said to the nobles, the officials, and the rest of the people, “The work is great and widely spread out, and we are separated far from one another on the wall. 20 Rally to us wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet. Our God will fight for us.”
We read that a plot had already been sprung to stop the reconstruction of the city. But even as plans were being constructed to stop their plan they do not stop their plans for reconstruction. They simply banded together and did what was necessary, not allowing their focus to be taken away from their objective. At times I think it is hard for us to remain focused on what God has called us to. We allow the plots and plans of others to distract us and take us away from our work and our community.
A beautiful thing is happening this summer. This summer several community organizations are coming together to do the work of building up our community. Of creating safe spaces for our young people and our families. Summer Impact is an employment program hiring high school students to go through job training and run programs in local parks. It is the outcome of several organizations coming together over the shared goal of building up the youth in our community. Of giving youth the space to grow and develop their gifts and talents.
The work of building up our community is “great and widely spread out” so it is fine if we at times are “far from one another” so we can do this work. But we must also remember to “rally” to one another from time to time. This summer my prayer is we will rally together in communal spaces like Broadway, Hull and Union Park. My prayer is we will rally together in our places of worship. My prayer is we will rally together in our battle to build up our community in order to remember “our God will fight for us.”