(Ezra 1:1-5, 3:8-13)
I am a lover of emotions: from blubbering to belly laughing – I love them all. Sometimes it just feels good to feel.
No wonder this verse grabs my emotion-loving soul:
Many . . . wept aloud, while others were shouting for joy . . . the shouting and the weeping mingled together in a loud commotion that could be heard far away!
Before I get to what the ruckus is all about and how the commotion might apply to you and me, I feel drawn to linger on the mingling of emotions. Mingling sounds mystical and beautiful and mingle-y – in a cozy way.
So, now about the ruckus: it’s about a Temple – well, two Temples . . .
You see, 70 years prior to this “mingling of emotions” the First Temple, Solomon’s spectacular Temple, is burned down by Nebuchadnezzar and the Hebrew people are exiled to Babylon.
Fast forward 70 years – Persia conquers Babylon, and Persia’s King Cyrus takes the world by surprise with this proclamation:
All Jews throughout the kingdom may now return to Jerusalem to rebuild this Temple of Jehovah.
And so they do – and this is where we pick up today’s part of the story.
The foundation of the second Temple is laid and this is cause for a crazy celebration of joyous shouts, crashing cymbals, blasting trumpets, and choirs.
They sang antiphonal praise and thanksgiving to God: Yes! God is good!
I’m certain my musical mom is cringing at my ignorance, but I had to google antiphonal. Antiphonal describes a style of singing by two groups in sort of a back-and-forth, call-and-response rhythm. Can you hear it?
God is good!
God is good!
This accounts for the joy-shouting contingent in the mingling, but where does the weeping fit in?
The weepers are weeping in remembrance of the glory of the first Temple. They are not interested in something new.
Their hearts are stuck in the past and focused on what’s been lost.
Maybe the weepers strike a chord with you.
Perhaps you find yourself weeping sometimes for what’s been lost:
tight skin (just kidding, maybe not).
Weeping is a necessary emotional outlet – even Jesus wept – but living in weeping for what we’ve lost is like driving a car while sitting backwards.
The past is a rearview mirror in which we are invited to recognize God’s loving care along the way; but we are meant to spend time looking through the side windows and the front windshield, too – recognizing and rejoicing in how He is caring for us where we are and where we are going.
The cymbals and trumpets of our hearts are called to celebrate where we can see the stories of our lives mingled with God’s provision and lovingkindness.
The part God sings in His antiphonal song is always, “I am good!”
The antiphony is complete when we respond, “Yes! Yes!”
Hear His invitation to sing your part with joy and let the rhythm and beauty of your mingled voices, yours and His, refresh your soul and carry you through the day.
See you next week.