I have spent much of the summer thinking about and teaching from the Old Testament books of Ezra and Nehemiah. These two books tell the story of the return of the people of Judah to the city of Jerusalem after the Exile.
It is a time in Israel’s history where the people of God look very weak against a powerful world. At the start of the story the temple, the city and the city walls all lie in ruins. But through the stories of the two books, we find that God is faithful to his promise, to restore his city, and more importantly his fame, despite all the opposition.
By the end of the books, the walls, city and temple are all rebuilt and more importantly the people received the word of God with much joy as it was read to them; and when they heard God’s word, they re-dedicated their lives to him.
Sometimes we too can feel weak and insignificant in the world.
Our churches seem fragile and ineffective, as if the church itself is just hanging on. It is in times like these we need the stories of Ezra and Nehemiah, reminding us that despite the obstacles, and sometimes opposition and great difficulty, God remains true to his promise.
Jesus said ‘I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it’ (Matt 16:18).
This promise is a reminder to us, that God wants his church to grow here in Tasmania, and because he has promised to preserve it, we too should be confident in our future. He is calling us, like the people of Judah, to hear his word in the Bible, and re-dedicate ourselves to him once again.
This edition of the Tas Anglican is filled with stories of hope and signs of life in our Diocese. Please continue to pray with me that God will work out his promise to bless us, and grow our churches.
Pray that like Ezra and Nehemiah, we will receive God’s word in the Bible with joy and that through it, he will bless his people.
With warm wishes in Christ,
Bishop Richard Conde