The reading this morning was from Nehemiah 1:1-2:10. You know, Nehemiah had rather a cushy job. Life wasn't bad, not bad at all. But he lived the truth of the body of Christ. He wasn't and couldn't be separated from his people and their sorrows and hardships. And so for them he prayed. And he didn't pray as one standing outside of them, but one of them. He confessed their sins as his own. He acknowledged their burdens as his. And he finally speaks to the King about doing something for them - sending him right into their midst to restore their city and give them a lasting home.
Hmm. Kind of sounds like our Lord, no? His act of intercession was to stand with us as one. And our burdens became His own and He is sent to provide us that city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
And it leads me to think about the importance of being "one loaf" with all my sisters and brothers in Christ. Earlier I posted a quote from Luther where he spoke of the joy of knowing that all the saints and angels cry out for us as soon as any suffering befalls us, that we are so much one body that all the saints on earth and in heaven "shall suffer and conquer with him, shall fight for him, help, protect, and save him, and shall undertake for him such a gracious exchange that they will all bear his sufferings, want, and afflictions and he partake of their blessings, comfort, and joy."
What is this but living the life of our Lord, the life in which He brings us into such unity with each other? Nehemiah prefigures this in his taking the pains of his fellow Jews upon himself. And wasn't this what Paul urged in last Sunday's epistle? "Bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ." Did any ever say this better than O.P.?
"For a few more years you will know only tenderness - until one day you, too, will become aware of the world's seething cauldron of hate... And then you, too, will begin to wonder - and you will do one of two things... You will either putter around in life, content with building a wall and a web around your little plans and small hopes and creeping ambitions - or you will, if you believe in God (as I think you'd better), make your heart a chalice for a few drops of this world's blood and tears... And when you know, finally, that the ultimate Good begins in Is. 53:6 and ends in John 3:16, you will be wise beyond man's knowing and strong beyond man's hope..." (The Pilgrim, p. 7)
Nehemiah wasn't content to putter around the palace; he made his heart a chalice. He brought the sorrows of his people to God in prayer and acted on their behalf. Lord God, help us to love one another in union with Your Son. Amen!