Reboot and rebuild – Resist and persist
Holy Trinity Church, Huddersfield, Sunday 13th September 2020
As far as the Pape household are concerned as our Granddaughter has started school this week I have taken on a new role, of twice a week child collector, taking over from being the full day child minder on Mondays I did last year until the Covid lock down began. Knowing my granddaughter I knew the two words that would work if she was at all upset Mummy or Daddy were not there to collect her, and in the end those two words, ice and cream, were needed. I would have treated her anyway, do not accuse me of bribary.
The service at Holy Trinity was led by a life group leader, Paul, standing in church in front of the window above. He read from 2 Corinthians 4:6-9: we are like clay jars where the real power is contained. Real power comes from God.
Nick, a physiotherapist, showed some exercised we could do, using weights weights to show that there needs to be resistance for exercise to be useful.
John, retired vicar, gave the sermon, the second in the Reboot and Rebuild series on Nehemiah. I t went something like this:
We are facing problems in this pandemic, problems of uncertainty over when it will end of how children going to school on a pandemic will be affected, financial problems due to redundancy and no work. Nehemiah’s problems came from people. Chapter 4 shows a direct attempt to distract them from building the walls of Jerusalem. In the chapter we are looking at, Chapter 6, a different tactic was deployed. There are six attempts to stop then rebuilding the gates in this chapter.
The first four attempts were the same. Nehemiah was invited to a meeting by Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem, people from near to that land who Nehemiah might have expected to be allies but who were the same people who had opposed the building of the wall in previous chapters. This meeting in the land of Ono was 300 miles away,!Nehemiah smelt a rat. it would take him away from the work for weeks and would give the enemy a chance to take him our.
The fifth attempt was the same request but this time accompanied by an unsealed letter, an open letter that anyone they passed along the way could read, accusing Nehemiah of plotting a coup. Nehemiah assured people that it was not true, then Nehemiah did what Nehemiah always did, turned to God in prayer.
The sixth challenge has a spiritual veneer, “People are trying to kill you,” Shemaiah says, “Come hide in the temple. With his keen spiritual insight, Nehemiah smelt a rat again. (My thoughts are there seems to be a lot of rats being smelt in this sermon, very odd.) Only priests were to go into the temple and Nehemiah is not a priest. Should the news get out that Nehemiah has broken temple law it would not be good for his authority.
Using tactics like these is still common today, not just across the Atlantic but on this side of pond. The Observer published news that after having a bad time at Prime Minister’s Questions on the Wednesday, Boris Johnson asked his staff to come up with anything from Labour leader Keir Starmer’s career as a lawyer that they can use to attack him.
We need to resist any Sanballats of this world and listen to Mike and his team. Said John, and we must pray. We need to have a clear commitment to God, we need to be a people of prayer and we need to be clear who the God we pray for is, full of love, justice and mercy, trustworthy.
The breadth of the prayers of Nehemiah is astonishing, he prayed prayers of praise of confession of commitment of trust. He prated for God’s power to fill him. He prayed for guidance. We should try to emulate that.