Nehemiah 8: 1-10
Congregations all over North America are concerned about their shrinking communities. For Nehemiah in the Old Testament, his fellow daughters and sons of Israel had already seen their community and nation shrink. The people had been scattered by war. By the time the dream of returning to the city of Jerusalem was realized, generations had passed by. Many didn't even understand the Hebrew language associated with God's word. The language and cultural barriers did not deter the new generation of faithful from responding to God's work among them and centering their lives on scripture.
For any congregation or Christian that seeks renewal, the techniques that produce growth may seem elusive. Without a life guided by scripture, the turnaround will be short lived. This is not to say that turnaround is completed in our effort. In Luke 4, Jesus lets his followers know that he is the fulfillment of the promises of God. It is because of the resurrection of Jesus that we can trust the promises of God and seek the scriptures with curiosity, wonder, and joy.