When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests in their vestments were stationed to praise the Lord with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, according to the directions of King David of Israel;
and they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord,
“For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel.”
And all the people responded with a great shout when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid.
But many of the priests and Levites and heads of families, old people who had seen the first house on its foundations, wept with a loud voice when they saw this house, though many shouted aloud for joy, so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people’s weeping, for the people shouted so loudly that the sound was heard far away.
Having set myself the challenge to blog the Narrative Lectionary as a spiritual discipline during Advent, I encountered passages of Scripture not normally associated with that Liturgical season, appreciating the new perspective that they brought to familiar themes.
These verses in Ezra also struck a chord for Path of Renewal.
Although, on the whole, there is excitement about the potential for the Pilot, as time wears on, it is anticipated that both those reactions modelled by the priests and the people - shouts of joy, enthusiastic response, alongside a longing for the old days, when attractional church seemed to work, are bound to emerge.
There is lots of positivity and encouragement, goodwill and momentum around the Path of Renewal just now, but what about when the first hurdles are encountered?
Without totally destroying the mood of optimism that is present, what about when the going gets a bit more difficult?
The voices of those who long for the old ways that are subdued for now won't always be hushed. Tthe cynics will be waiting in the wings.
And, often, we take more notice of critics than advocates.
So our grounding, our faith, our ability to return to the reasons we have been motivated for and called to this project will need revisiting frequently.
When it becomes difficult to distinguish the weeping from the shouts for joy, may we discern a path of renewal that builds on all that was good while forging a way forward alongside God.
Journeying with Scripture, be it those familiar and well loved passages or words revealed in a new light will be an important discipline along the way.