Rejoice in Understanding – Br. Lain Wilson

Nehemiah 8:1-12

I have been overjoyed this week to see Br. David, with sign language, showing us the importance of interpretation. At one time or another, we all need an interpreter. We need a translation to understand a text. We need an explanation to understand a law. Or we need an encounter to make real a truth that we may know but do not yet feel.

This is true of the Israelites, as we hear in our passage from Nehemiah this morning. They are gathered to hear the priest Ezra read from the law. At the same time, a group of Levites move through the assembled crowd to help them understand what is being read. The effect is clear: “All the people went their way . . . to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them” (Neh 8:12). The text is important—but the act of interpretation makes the truth of the text they hear real and felt.

I recently had my own experience of this. This past weekend was the feast of the dedication of the Order of St. Anne, a community of nuns. Our Society has a long and close relationship with the Sisters. Our Society—not me.

And so, the love and affection that I felt as I sat beside one of the Sisters surprised me. I was surprised to receive love as a Brother, for a relationship that I have inherited and done little to contribute to. I cannot have done anything to earn or deserve this love.

This encounter has been one of interpretation that has helped me to understand the truth of God’s love, to move beyond knowing to feeling what it means to hold my hands out and receive from God love freely offered, unearned. And what a joyful feeling!

How have you come to understand some truth, to have it made real for you? What text or experience or encounter has allowed you to feel something to be true? Bring that to God in prayer, and rejoice.

Amen.

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