Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church - Marshfield, WI

Go Home!

“Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing: ‘Thus says Cyrus king of Persia- The Lord, the God of Heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.  Whoever is among you of all his people, may the Lord God be with him.  Let him go up.’” 2 Chronicles 36:22-23

70 years.  Can you imagine being away from Church, from family, or from friends for 70 years? Most of us wouldn’t survive that long to see it.  For me to wait 70 years right now would put me at the ripe old age of 98.  Who even knows if God will grant me such a life!  

70 years. That is the time between Jerusalem being destroyed by the Babylonians and the survivors being carted into exile to this proclamation by Cyrus and the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem.  

The long-awaited announcement comes.  “Whoever is among the people of God, let him go up.”  

I am sure it was packed with a lot of emotion.  Children and grandchildren hearing the stories from grandparents about their ancestral home.  The joys of the promised land, the guilt over their sin, the longing to return, and now that release is granted.  Go home.  Rebuild the dwelling place of your God and live in peace.  

The books of Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, and Zechariah detail the blessings and struggles in their return.  Gazing upon the ruined city of Jerusalem brings Nehemiah to tears.  The laying of the altar of the temple causes rejoicing.  The first worship service at the foundation of the temple brings with it both acclamation and lamentation.  

Go home.  It has been 70 years.  The Word of the Lord is fulfilled.  The time has come.

Why go home?  Because this is the land that the Lord swore to give to our Father Abraham.  

Why rebuild?  Because in Ezekiel’s prophetic oracles, the new temple will be the place where “The Lord is There.”  “The glory of the new temple will be greater than the old” the Lord speaks through the Prophet, “because I myself will be there.”  

77 days.  That is the length of time between March 15th, 2020 and May 31st, 2020.  At times it has felt like 70 years.  

77 days.  But now the time has come: Go home.  Rebuild.  Rejoice.  Praise.  Weep.  Lament.  I know that I will be doing a bit of it all myself.  I am sure this service this upcoming weekend will be just like the foundation of the new temple being laid.  

Why go home?   Because the place where the Church gathers for worship is the promise of our Lord Jesus Christ, where He gathers us to give us his gifts.  You can’t be more Lutheran than that.  

Why rebuild our time together?  Because, the Lord is there with us.  That is his promise. Wherever the body of Christ gathers, so too does our resurrected Head.  

Go home! Sure, the service might not be as spectacular as you are thinking in your head.  Sure, you might not get the fullness of the glory that once was ours a few months ago.  

But there is one thing that trumps and outshines all other things: The Lord is there.  Isn’t that the point?   His presence in our midst on Sunday will enliven our hearts to the salvation that is ours in Jesus Christ our Lord.  

So Go home.  It has been 77 days.  Receive God’s gifts and be grafted onto Him who is life everlasting.  Have no fear.

“Whoever is among you of all his people at Marshfield & Christ Lutheran, may the Lord his God be with him.  Let him go up.”  

Indeed, he is our Immanuel, our God with us.  “Lo, I am with you always, even to the very end of the age.” Amen.  

Pastor Andrew

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