Reflections: September 18, 2020
Friday of the 14th Week after Trinity
By Mark Buetow
And they said to me, "The survivors who are left from the captivity in the province are there in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire." (Nehemiah 1:3)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Nehemiah was a faithful follower of God who lived his life in exile. He was the cup-bearer to King Artaxerxes of Persia. Nehemiah knew his people were in captivity because they had turned away from the Lord. But even while they were in exile the Lord was gracious to them. The King permitted Nehemiah to go back to Jerusalem to rebuild the city, including the temple where God Himself dwelt.
Jesus once told the Jews to tear down the temple and it would be rebuilt in three days. At that time, the temple was the one King Herod had built. But Jesus meant the Temple of His body, which would be killed and then rise again on the Third Day.
From the days of Moses, the tabernacle (tent of meeting), followed by the temple in Jerusalem, was the place where you knew God was. When the Israelites went into exile, it was if God was saying, "I'm not hanging out with you anymore. You don't want me, so go live where I don't!" Ouch! But the coming of Jesus, the Son of God in the flesh, is the reminder that the Lord might appear to be gone for a time but is always among His people. If He wasn't there in the temple when they were in exile, He was still there among them in His Word.
The Church is where God is today. The Church is where Jesus is. People seem to think of "God" as someone or something "out there" but Christians know better. God is a person. A human being. Jesus Christ. He is present among us by water, Word, Body and Blood. He is present in His Body, the holy Christian Church.
The thing about the true God is that He's always been a "somewhere you can find Him" Lord. He doesn't hide in some other dimension. He's right here with us. As a man who can be crucified and died and rise again. As one who comes to us with real, physical gifts. There can be no doubt where Jesus is, and where He is, there we have all we need of God: the Savior who never abandons us but is here to forgive and give life. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
God Himself is present: Let us now adore Him And with awe appear before Him. God is in His temple; All within keep silence; Humbly kneel in deepest reverence. He alone On His throne Is Our God and Savior; Praise His Name forever. ("God Himself is Present" LSB 907, st. 1)
-Rev. Mark Buetow is the pastor of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church and School in McHenry, Illinois.
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