828 King's Highway, Suffolk VA 23432

757 255-4168 stjohns1755@verizon.net Worship Service: Sundays at 10:30am
Welcome to St. John's community. We are honored to serve Christ, and to open our doors to all. Please feel free to join us for worship. St. John's can trace its history to the founding of Jamestown. The parish is over 350 years old, and the church building itself has stood for 2 and a half centuries. St. John's saw the American Revolution and served as a camp ground for troops during the Civil War. Through it all, St. John's has been a place of worship and a home for those seeking communion with Christ. St. John's has a rich and abiding history. Today, it is as it was... a place to find and be found by Christ.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Christian Formation for Sunday Jan. 27 - Nehemiah 8:1-12; Ezra Summons the People to Obey the Law

January 27, 2013 – 3 Epiphany
Nehemiah 8:1-12
Ezra Summons the People to Obey the Law
Background: The book of Nehemiah is closely tied to the book of Ezra and it is believed the books share many elements and often contrast the lives of Ezra and Nehemiah. Nehemiah was most likely composed following his return to Israel in 445 BCE. The book of Nehemiah can be viewed in three sections; chapters 1-7 describe Nehemiah’s return to Israel and rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem; in chapters 8-10 Ezra reads the law and responses to the law; and chapters 11-13 continue Nehemiah’s story.
Theme: Ezra reads “the torah of Moses” to the exiles who had returned from Babylon. This passage describes the first reading of the books of Moses, the education of the people, and the responses of Israel to their renewal through the law.
Questions to Ponder
* Please read Nehemiah 8:1-12. Read Ezra 8 to get a sense of the chronological setting for this passage.
* Briefly describe the setting of this passage and book; the social, political, and religious context for the Israelites. Briefly describe the relationship between Ezra and Nehemiah focusing on role each has in society.
* What might the significance be of assembling the people in the square before the Water Gate? What benefit might come from having the entire population together?
* What, if anything, is ironic about the people to whom Ezra spoke, “both men and women and all who could hear with understanding”?
* What might the historic significance be of the date of the pronouncement of the law to the Israelites (the 7th month)? Does this date coincide with some other festival in Jewish tradition?
* Why might Ezra have stood on a platform “made for the purpose” when reading the law to the Israelites?
* How might the posture of worship described in verses 5 and 6 impact the people and their worship? Do you think these proscriptions have an impact on Jewish (and later Christian) worship? Why or why not? Why might the Israelites have “lifted up their hands” when Ezra blessed God and they responded Amen?
* What function might the people identified in verses 4 and 7 serve? How might they be helpful in interpreting the law (as mentioned in verse 8)? For what purpose would an interpretation be needed during the reading of the law?
* What implications might we draw from the explicit “requirement” to provide interpretation of the law to the assembled people of Israel?
* Why might the people weep and mourn when the Law of Moses was read to them?
* For what reason might Ezra remind them to not mourn, even given their desire to mourn once they heard the law?
* How might the law provide a message of hope to the Israelites? How might the interpretation impact the message of hope?
* How does the message of hope in the Law give Christians hope for a future?
* What are the implications and challenges for us today presented in this passage?

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