There’s nothing like a good book. Reading a good book should do something to you. It should enthral you, transport you to another place, teach you – or even challenge you. It should certainly make you think.
Two of today’s readings take us to reading – specifically the reading of God’s word.
In Nehemiah the people have settled in their towns. They have returned from exile and returned to Jerusalem and Judah (7:6), and they are gathering in Jerusalem. The first thing they do is turn to God. It was the people who ask Ezra to go and get the book of the law. Ezra returns with it, and reads it to them. As soon as he opens the book, the people praise God, and kneel in worship. Opening the book of God’s law causes them to respond. It is not a dull lifeless book, or even an interesting read. They experience and acknowledge it as the word of God, and it moves them to worship and praise. If we read further into the book of Nehemiah, their response goes to celebrate the Festival of Shelters and to confess their sins. The word of God doesn’t just instruct them, it moves them to act.
In the reading from Luke, Jesus is back in Galilee, and as he teaches in the synagogues the people respond to him – everyone praises him. In the Synagogue at Nazareth he is handed the scroll with the reading from Isaiah 61:1,2. ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. He has chosen me…’ He tells them that here, now, in their presence this reading is coming true – he is that one.
They are challenged to respond to what they hear from God’s word. This is it. The one God was sending is here – what will they do?
Further on in this chapter we see exactly what their response is – and it’s not a good one – but respond they have to.
You cannot hear what God has to say and do nothing. Impassivity to God is not possible. You hear his word and you cannot stay the same. Decisions have to be made.
So this gives us two pointers:
- We should take the time to read and listen to God’s word
- We need to respond to it in our lives today
So lets spend time with God’s word, and not just out of interest, but to let it speak to us, challenge us, comfort us, reveal to us who God is.