Scripture Focus: Nehemiah 10:28-29
28 “The rest of the people—priests, Levites, gatekeepers, musicians, temple servants and all who separated themselves from the neighboring peoples for the sake of the Law of God, together with their wives and all their sons and daughters who are able to understand— 29 all these now join their fellow Israelites the nobles, and bind themselves with a curse and an oath to follow the Law of God given through Moses the servant of God and to obey carefully all the commands, regulations and decrees of the Lord our Lord.

Reflection: My Word is My Bond
By Erin Newton

The turn of each year brings a sense of hope. Many of us look to the future, hopeful of a better set of circumstances. Many of us envision a year of accomplishments. Each year is an opportunity for renewing our commitments.

Nehemiah describes a time of renewal. Ezra read the law of Moses to the people, bringing them to confess their sins. In response, the community came together to bind themselves to God. It was more than lip-service. The people of God vowed to be held accountable.

One of the inevitable downfalls of our New Year resolutions is the lack of follow-through. Gym memberships soar in January as everyone commits to “really getting into shape this time,” but all regular gym members know the crowds will dissipate by March. The lofty goal of reading the Bible in a year is usually stalled by the end of February or whenever you get a few chapters into Leviticus. (It’s ok, I study the Old Testament and sometimes find it boring, ha!)

Usually, the cost of membership keeps some of us trudging to the gym every few weeks, so as not to waste our money. Reading the Bible? Well, that’s free and can be difficult to trudge through without motivation.

So what did it mean for God’s people to bind themselves by oath and curse?

Deuteronomy also ended with a renewed commitment to follow God, alongside a promise of blessings for obedience and curses for negligence. The Israelites, recently returned from exile, were keenly aware of the consequences for neglecting God’s word. Despite the reality of taking such an oath, their hearts responded to conviction.

Renewal is the story of God’s people. When we reflect upon the story of Jesus born in the manger, we must respond to why this birth is more important than any other. As we move closer to Easter, we must respond to why this death is more important than any other. When we accept Jesus as Lord, our hearts are renewed. New purpose, new focus, new life.

Our stories are never quite so simple. We mess up. We fall short. In many ways, our resolution to follow God is thwarted. I once saw a motivational poster near a gym that read, “If it means enough, you’ll find a way. If it doesn’t, you’ll find excuses.”

May we use this new year to bind ourselves to God once again.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Remember, Lord, how short life is, how frail you have made all flesh. — Psalm 89.47

Today’s Readings
Nehemiah 10 (Listen 4:41
Revelation 19 (Listen 3:47)

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