Scripture Focus: Ezra 3.11-13
And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid. But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy. No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise. And the sound was heard far away. 

Reflection: The Mingled Prayers of Exiles :: Epiphany
By John Tillman

To begin anything rightly, we must begin in prayer. 

As we approach the first Sunday of the new year and the culmination of Epiphany on Monday, we humbly join in prayer that our hearts will be moved to return to the Lord and serve him this year. 

Joy and Sorrow Mingled in A Prayer for Exiles
Lord, your servant Ezra tells us that as the assembly of exiles gathered, reestablishing worship and devotion toward you, there were whoops and shouts of excitement mixed with weeping and wailing. 

Lord, we pray today as the exiles prayed, with mingled sorrow and joy.

We weep for losses, sins, error, and struggle. 
We shout for mercy, comfort, redemption, and aid.
The entwined sounds of joy and weeping are the sounds of the gospel. 

We confess the pain and loss of the past and the joy and grace revealed and manifested to us in the Holy Spirit, our comforter and advocate sent by the power of Christ’s prayer on our behalf. (John 14.26)

The exiles prayed, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his love endures forever.” (Ezra 3.11)

As they did they were echoing this repeated theme from many psalms of prayer and worship. We echo those psalms today…

We thank you, Lord, that your anger lasts only a moment and that, though we may weep through the night, the morning is coming when we will rejoice. (Psalm 30.5)

We thank you for the blessing of telling our redemption story—of being homeless, hungry, and hopeless—until you delivered us from our distress. (Psalm 107.1-6)

We thank you for bringing us into a spacious place in your presence.
Mortal harm and danger may come upon us, but no suffering removes your presence from us.
We abandon hope in princes, kings, or human power, taking refuge only in you, Lord. (Psalm 118.1-9)

You, oh Lord, look kindly on the lowly and distance yourself from the lofty in spirit.
As we humble ourselves, draw close to us.
May we, in danger and trouble, sense your preserving and comforting right hand, Jesus, the arm of the Lord which is not too short to save us. (Psalm 138.6-8)

May we establish today, as the exiles did, a foundation of faith built only on the rock of Christ Jesus.
May our cries of mingled joy and sorrow ring out far into our world, telling our culture the story of the gospel and revealing to them the glorious grace of Christ.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence
Hearken to my voice, O Lord, when I call; have mercy on me and answer me.
You speak in my heart ans say, “Seek my face.” Your face, Lord, will I seek.
Hide not your face from me, nor turn away your servant in displeasure. — Psalm 27.10-12

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Ezra 3 (Listen -3:01) 
Acts 3 (Listen -3:33)

This Weekend’s Readings
Ezra 4 (Listen -4:27) Acts 4 (Listen -5:15)
Ezra 5 (Listen -3:02) Acts 5 (Listen -6:49)

Read more about A Different Kind of Exile
In this world, we are cast out. In the renewed world we will be brought in. May that day come soon. And may we bring many following behind us.

Read more about In Denial in Exile
For the sake of God’s name they were exiled. But also for the sake of God’s name, he promised to restore them.