God is a God for all…Generations
10 When the builders laid the foundation of the Lord’s temple, the priests clothed in their vests and carrying their trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph with cymbals, arose to praise the Lord according to the directions of Israel’s King David. 11 They praised and gave thanks to the Lord, singing responsively, “He is good, his graciousness for Israel lasts forever.” All of the people shouted with praise to the Lord because the foundation of the Lord’s house had been laid. 12 But many of the older priests and Levites and heads of families, who had seen the first house, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple, although many others shouted loudly with joy. 13 No one could distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people’s weeping, because the people rejoiced very loudly. The sound was heard at a great distance. (Ezra 3:10-13)
The Israelites had been exiled from Israel for seventy years. King Solomon’s temple had been completely destroyed. Upon their return to the Promised Land, they began the faithful and meticulous work of building a temple to honor and glorify God. Through careful, painstaking planning and labor, this renewed people of God laid the foundation for the new temple. The celebration began!
However, as noted in Ezra 3:12-13, the older generation wept. Not sniffled or cried – they wept.
Have you ever had a moment when relief came washing over you? When you no longer had to worry about the future but at the same time the future wasn’t quite what you expected?
Imagine the mixed emotions these older priests must have experienced. They were watching the next generation creating a temple and a community that would bring faith in God into the future. After 70 years of holding onto hope, the moment was before them. At the same time, these priests had to mourn what used to be. What they built so long ago was no longer what God was doing but rather it was what God had done.
What is admirable about these priests was the courage it took to mourn without apology or shame. They validated the full emotional experience of partnering with God to serve the world. If these priests and leaders had suppressed their grief, their wounded souls would have resisted what God was doing for the future. Their memories and desire to cling to what used to be would have prevented something new from the beginning.
I will set up my covenant with you and your descendants after you in every generation as an enduring covenant. I will be your God and your descendants’ God after you. (Genesis 17:7)
With each generation, we renew our covenant with God. As those who have experienced it, we can be honest about how we feel while encouraging what the next generation hopes. All of us are part of the story of God’s faithful people.
Rev. Carol D. Sparks
Hate Hurts. Grace Heals. Love Wins!