As a result of their time together in the reading and hearing of God’s word, the people develop a clearer perception of God’s will for their lives. They come with reverence, attentiveness, and active participation. Ezra and those assisting him read from the law and offer interpretation to enhance the people’s understanding. Perhaps in hearing and understanding the law, the people realize their lives are far from measuring up to its standards; Ezra encourages them not to mourn or weep.
We affirm that God acts in our best interest. As we assemble in community for worship and Bible study, we gain an increased knowledge of God’s will and leave with a determination to follow that will to the best of our ability
Ezra reminds the people of the holiness of their gathering. It will be a feast day. This passage ends with the phrase “for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” And even as Ezra sends them away from their community in the square to feast, he encourages their remembrance of community and the need to assure provision for those who have nothing. Together or apart, the community exercises the responsibility of care for one another.
Still today, the joy of the Lord will be our strength. A rejoicing heart does not arise from a life that exists without difficulty but from a life that is rooted in faith as its foundation.
Despite our circumstances—whether exiled or lost—the joy of the Lord is our strength. We look beyond our struggles and doubts to the purpose for which God has called us. We see God’s acts of restoration in our lives and experience joy and renewal.
All-knowing God, I come to you with reverence and attentiveness. Empower and invigorate my life to serve your will. Amen.