Reading Nehemiah reminds me of Gus.
Gus was a hard-working guy. Immigrating from Germany after WWII, Gus built a life in western Canada, constructing the massive brown grain elevators that once loomed over our prairie landscape. Twice widowed, his house was tiny, but his garage/workshop was immense. After he retired, you’d find Gus puttering with something in his workshop every day except Sunday, when he would arrive at the church 20 minutes early — like clockwork.
Looking for Gus sitting in the sanctuary (in the back row, of course) became part of my own preparation ritual. Later, I learned that coming to church early to pray and “prepare one’s heart” for worship and Holy Communion is a time-honoured German tradition.
The women and men in Nehemiah are like Gus. Working hard, stubbornly building a temple and a life in a new land, they were hungry to hear God’s Word. They wanted to hear from God so much, they were willing to stand from early morning until noon in the hot Mediterranean sun. (And afterward, they went for brunch – something else Gus would appreciate!)
Reading Nehemiah as Christmas approaches makes me wonder… do we eagerly anticipate worship? Or is it another chore? During Advent busyness, is spending time with Jesus — “the Word made flesh” — a priority?
I pray it will be, for both you and me.
Rev. Bruce Ehlert serves Mount Olivet Lutheran Church, an Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sherwood Park, near Edmonton, in central Alberta, Canada.
©2016 by individual authors and Facebook Narrative Lectionary Group. This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.