Janet Chalmers | Nehemiah 5
Now the men and their wives raised a great outcry against their fellow Jews. Some were saying, ‘We and our sons and daughters are numerous; in order for us to eat and stay alive, we must get grain.’ Others were saying, ‘We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards and our homes to get grain during the famine.’ ... When I heard their outcry and these charges, I was very angry. I pondered them in my mind and then accused the nobles and officials. I told them, ‘You are charging your own people interest!’ So I called together a large meeting to deal with them and said: ‘As far as possible, we have bought back our fellow Jews who were sold to the Gentiles. Now you are selling your own people, only for them to be sold back to us!’ They kept quiet, because they could find nothing to say.
While the poor suffer misery, the rich get ever richer. In these ancient times Nehemiah faces a very modern problem. How should he respond?
Rachel Fasham was supposed to be preaching this week, but COVID-19 forced a change in our plans and, instead, we hear from service leader Janet Chalmers in the recording with a brief introduction to what Rachel intended to say.
During the service the congregation were invited to discuss these questions:
- What was Nehemiah’s response to the situation and how is this an example of living in godliness?
- Nehemiah was a person of influence. Who do we know who has influence?
- How can we get them to use their influence?
- What should our response as individuals and as a church be to the current cost of living crisis?
- What will you pledge to do?
The PCC of Christ Church has already agreed to commit resources to help with the economic crisis during the winter months, possibly by acting as a warmth and food hub, but planning is only just beginning.
Some of the congregational responses involved supporting these efforts, and also supporting B30 Foodbank and Christians Against Poverty who are very much in the front line.
Personally we can look out for those in need and display kindness, and spend our money with independent, socially responsible businesses rather than non-tax paying giants. We can engage with politicians to promote fairness in the economic system. We can pray for the government, for those in need, for good harvests and a fair distribution.
These were some of the pledges that were made, but many will also wish to imitate Nehemiah in another respect: he carefully considered his response.
The recording includes the reading from Dave Lucking.