One of my favorite texts from the Hebrew Bible is the lectionary selection this week from Nehemiah 8. It is a story of a people who have been through great hardship and have begun to rebuild their lives. They pause in this process to hear a word, which is about them, but comes from outside themselves. There has been a discovery in the wall, a scroll is found and the people gather to hear from it. The reading is from the Law, something we Christians know as the ten commandments. My Jewish friends remind me that it is more than that, it is part of what makes the claim “I shall be your God and you shall be my people.” It is part of covenant.

When this text is read the people weep. They weep because they remember who they are and whose they are. It is easy, I suppose, when some disaster strikes, to believe that God has somehow abandoned you. This text reminds us that “Love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared with love in dreams.” – Fyodor Dostoevski