What is the sound of renewal?
What should we be listening for when God’s people gather as a collection of individuals all uniquely exposed to the renewal of the gospel in their lives? Or, what should I be listening for when I sit across a table at Starbucks, or Perk on Main (our local coffee shop), talking to a broken person whom God is redeeming in the present through the past work of Christ and the continual work of the Spirit?
I have been thinking about this.
I have been wrestling.
As regards West Valley PCA… we are a church that is growing. Every Sunday when we gather, the critical mass is expanding such that the SOUND of our gathering should crescendo just the same. But what is that sound? What is the sound of a people gathered by God, whom he has been renewing daily, personally, and thus corporately? How does renewal sound when we call to God in worship, or sing in celebration, or collectively repent in liturgical prayers? How does renewal sound in small groups and coffee shop meetings?
I want to know the sound of renewal that grumbles within people.
We should know the sound of renewal that the gathered of God should be known for.
While pondering all this, I happened upon Ezra 3. Immediately, I knew I was being informed by the Word of God about the SOUND of RENEWAL. This is the hope of my soul… that I would pastor a church that has the acoustics of redemption. That my family would sound this way… and be part of the sound.
It’s an honest sound, to say the least. But let me not analyze it…I will leave the Word of God to you. The context of Ezra 3 is simple: God’s people have been brought back from exile, and are privileged (by the decree of Cyrus) to rebuild the temple which had been destroyed. Upon the completion of the new foundation, the people all gathered in worship. They were back in the land promised them by God! They were together! They were experiencing a renewal of God’s plan and place and presence! What was that sound???
Ezra 3.10-13 – And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord… they sang responsively, praising God and giving thanks to the Lord, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel.” And all the people SHOUTED with a great shout when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first house, WEPT with a loud voice… so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people’s weeping, for the people shouted with a great shout, and the sound was heard far away.
Yep. That sounds about right. God’s people, renewed by God yet struggling because it is all still so broken, so imperfect, so not quite finished. Yeah, to me as the pastor of West Valley PCA and as a man and husband and father… what I hear from the renewed is all so, indistinguishable. People weeping as they long for MORE, God, please MORE! People shouting as they taste freedom and see the glory of God in their lives for the first time. That is the life.
Sounds like renewal to me. Sounds like reality til Jesus returns and the weeping fades away (Revelation 21)…