By Bob Hightchew
Homecoming celebrations are special events. They allow you to see people you have not seen in years, usually because career paths have taken you in different directions. You get the opportunity to catch up and reminisce about old times.
Similarly, a dedication ceremony offers a time to celebrate. Often the larger the project and the greater the involvement, the grander the celebration and the greater the relief that comes with the project’s completion.
A few years ago, our church took on the task of constructing a new building. It took 18 months to complete. We endured our share of trials along the way. Battles were fought. Our leadership team even received threats. However, it was worth it on the day our church family gathered for our first worship service in the new building. It was an amazing celebration to say the least. Other than a guest speaker, a slide show, and a fellowship dinner that morning, we really did not do anything different. But at the same time, the service was filled with great joy. The job was accomplished, our church family celebrated, and tears flowed!
If our church rejoiced at the completion of a new building, I can only imagine what it must have been like for Nehemiah and the Israelites as they finished the seemingly impossible task of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. After all the threats, the slurs, and the taunting from Sanballat and his men, the nation of Israel worshipped on the very walls they had been building.
Nehemiah 12:43 says, “On that day they offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because God had given them great joy. The women and the children also rejoiced. The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away.”
What the Israelites had been missing for years finally returned to them. Once again they understood the source of their joy. It was God! He protected them, he provided for them, and he brought them back home. The walls were finally complete, and the enemies of Israel could hear the rejoicing. What a proclamation to the world!
Bob Hightchew has served as the senior minister of South Fork Christian Church in Verona, Kentucky since 1996. He and his wife, Holly Jo, have been married for 22 years. They have three children.