Key Verse: “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked”.[Psalms 84:10 ].
Every parish has two kinds of members in its roll. The active members and the passive members. The active members are those members who are concerned at the day to day affairs of the parish. They try to create a relationship with the fellow parishioners, their parish priest, and is actively involved in the activities of the parish. These members can sometimes become critical of the functioning of the parish, which may be out of their concern for the parish. The other group of members are the passive members. These are members who always want to play safe. They try to keep good distance from the active functioning of the parish. For them, relationship with other members of the parish exist only when they face a need, they may or may not attend worship regularly. Even if they attend worship, they will try to get out of the worship service as early as possible so that they are not forced to involve in any responsibility of the parish. For these type of members whatever happens to their parish is not their concern, or issues like what are the needs of the parish or how can the parish move forward meaningfully is of least concern to them. Today most of the parish is plunging downward in its mission and vision is because the members do not have a burden for the parish. It is in such a context Nehemiah becomes a model for the members of the parish.
He is a good model on how we can bring transformation in the parish. Who is Nehemiah?. Nehemiah means “ comforted by Jehovah”. He was among the Jews of the exile to Babylon. After the Babylon empire fell to the Persians, he found himself in the palace of the King Artaxerxes, as the royal cup bearer. This was a role that involved a lot of responsibility, trust and position. It is when he was in this position that he hears the news of that the walls of Jerusalem has been broken down and the gates are destroyed by fire. Nehemiah is heart broken at the news and he spend time in fasting and prayer. [ Nehemiah 1:1-4]. Jerusalem was the centre of the life of the people of Israel and is also known as a symbolic city where God desires to dwell. But now that symbolic city and the historic city is in ruins. Nehemiah is burdened by the state of ruins of Jerusalem. I think what we need today in our parish are members who have a burden for their parish. If only every member of our parishes have a concern on how each parish should function in its mission and vision, our parish life could have been more dynamic. But the truth is that whatever happens in our parish, we are not concerned and hence the result is that sometimes people who do not have any vision are the ones who decide how the parish functions.
What the Lord requires us is to be serious about our role in our parish and have a burden for the local body of Christ which is our parish and when that happens I believe we can direct our parish in the ways of the Lord.
An active member of the parish or a passive member?
For Further Study: 2 Kings 23, 1 Corinthians 12
Let us Pray: Dear Lord we thank you for the gift of being members of your body which is the church, our local parish. Help us to have burden for our parish so that our parish is a witness to your love and grace. Amen