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Called to rebuild? (12 August)

This week’s thought for the week has been written by Beth Powney.

Called to rebuild?

In Thetford there are some extensive ruins of an old 12th century Priory, which was one of the largest and most important monasteries in medieval East Anglia.  The ruins of this priory are a place I sometimes go to take a walk or to just sit and ponder.  These places always inspire me with a certain amount of awe when I think of the centuries of worship which occurred on this land. This one wasn’t subject to Henry VIII dissolution until 1540 and so there were 400 years of consistent worship on the site.  The monks must have felt such grief and pain as they were banished from their monastery and saw it gradually fall into disrepair, did they feel that all they had lived and worked for was being swept away?

Now it stands in ruins, it is a tourist attraction, used as a picnic site as well as a place of peace and solitude for people like myself.

As I sat there early Sunday morning I was drawn to Nehemiah and how the people were called to re-build the walls of Jerusalem, to go back, pick up the rubble and start again.  That didn’t happen on this site, even though Christian worship in all of its many and varied forms has remained alive and well in Thetford down the centuries.  The Israelite people were called to a very specific work for a very specific purpose and so certain was Nehemiah of that calling, that when the opposition came he was able to say to those who opposed what the king had authorised: “The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it.”  (Nehemiah2:20)

Nehemiah stood completely firm in his belief of who God is, the one who is great and awesome and the God over heaven and earth.  He knew to what he, Nehemiah, had been called and to what he had been called to do – to go and rebuild the walls, which was a job for everyone. Finally he knew how to recognise where the opposition came from and how to deal with it in God’s strength.

Sitting among these ruins on Sunday made me ask questions, especially right now, when we can feel like the rug has been pulled from under our feet, our buildings stand quiet and empty, not serving the community in the way they did and probably we are not being church in the way we would want to be either.

So it’s worth recalling again that God is sovereign over heaven and earth and that includes his church

Have we been called by God to rebuild the ‘walls’ – the church that was, whether that is the building or the people on the site where we were before COVID 19.  If we have then I think the account of Nehemiah reminds us that it’s work for everyone together, not just the tired pastors.

Are we able to recognise where the resistance and opposition comes from for the work God has called us to do and are we armoured to combat it in His strength when it comes?

The monks of the 12th century would have had absolutely no concept of the style of Christian worship that has grown across the centuries and in particular over these last few months, but hopefully they did know that even when what they had held dear had gone, God’s kingdom would continue to reign and God would still be God, sovereign over heaven and earth.  The very same certainty that we can hold on to today.

Prayer for the Regional Team

Nick is currently on a staycation, Beth is preaching at Godmanchester on Sunday and Graeme will be joining with one of our church’s online services.

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