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Zechariah and the Day of Small Things

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BY RUSTY RUSHING |

“For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice, and shall see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.” Zechariah 4:10 ESV

Earlier this week, a pastor that I follow on Twitter tweeted out this verse of Scripture. He offered no explanation or elaboration on the verse, no context or story; he simply posted the verse. And as I read it, it just spoke to me.

Admittedly, this is a pretty obscure verse of Scripture. In fact, it might even be one that you’ve never read or have simply glossed offer hundreds of times. But, whatever the case, I think it’s a significant verse for us to consider given where we are as a congregation.

This verse is included in a vision that God revealed to the prophet Zechariah during the period when the Jews were just returning to Jerusalem from the Babylonian exile. [1]

At first, there was great joy and hope among God’s people as they returned home and, under the leadership of Zerubbabel, began to rebuild the temple. They laid the foundation of the temple, but, despite the decree of King Cyrus of Persia which granted them the freedom to return and rebuild the temple, the rebuilding project suffered tremendous opposition from people in and around Jerusalem.[2] In time, in the face of this opposition, enthusiasm and hope waned. Fears grew, as did frustration and discouragement over the lack of building progress. Despondency set in and faith faded, leading the people to lose heart for the mission and abandon the rebuilding efforts…Though they had been freed from the physical exile and were allowed to return home, those that returned to Jerusalem were still experiencing a sense of spiritual exile, wondering whether they were still part of God’s plan or whether they had been abandoned.

Many years passed and only the temple foundation remained built. Then, in approximately 520 B.C., God spoke to the people through Zechariah, encouraging them to resume rebuilding the temple. [3] And it was within this context, a call to God’s people to resume rebuilding the temple, that God spoke the words, “For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice, and shall see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel” (ESV). These were words of assurance to God’s people that though the rebuilding project looked small and insignificant to them, by the power of His Spirit, He would work through Zerubbabel to ensure the temple was rebuilt. Perhaps even more importantly, however, these were words of assurance to God’s people that His presence was still with them and working for and through them, and that He still had a plan to bless them.

And, just as God assured the people would occur, in 516 B.C., the rebuilding of temple was completed.[4] Through this experience God’s people learned a valuable lesson of faith: though new beginnings may look small and insignificant from our perspective, and though we may face opposition from others and progress may be slower than we want, that does not mean that God’s presence is not with His people, working in and through people of faith to accomplish great tasks, blessing them, and providing them opportunities to rejoice as His plan of redemption moves forward.

Great story, huh? But what does this have to do with us here at Peace? Well, I think a great deal.

Photo of Peace Moravian Church outside of Hawk Ridge Elementary for worship on Easter, 2017

The Peace congregation gathered outside of Hawk Ridge Elementary for worship on Easter, 2017.

Over the last year as Peace has attempted to start over as a church we’ve gone from worshipping in the Moravian House to worshipping at Hawk Ridge Elementary. As we did, I shared statistics showing that new churches that worship in public places, especially schools, have higher worship attendance. And, so as we set out for Hawk Ridge, we did so with great hope and even enthusiasm.

In our short time at Hawk Ridge, we’ve begun serving the community there, collecting school supplies for them and becoming reading buddies at the school, attempting to serve the students and faculty of Hawk Ridge and begin to build relationships with them. In July, a number of us met with the principal of Hawk Ridge to discuss even more significant ways we can serve them and further integrate ourselves into their community next school year.

In addition to our move to Hawk Ridge, we’ve also relocated our offices to Greylyn Business Park. And, Joyce Vance, Peace’s Director of Christian Education, and I have been dreaming about ways our new space can provide us with additional opportunities to connect with one another and the community where we now find ourselves. In particular, I am personally very excited about exploring potential partnering and service opportunities with the Community Culinary School of the Carolinas (CCSC) which is located in Greylyn. CCSC is a wonderful ministry that provides “workplace development” for “adults who face barriers gaining long-term successful employment.” They provide job training, counseling, and assist in helping people develop life skills. CCSC is nourishing the community helping those they serve transform their lives. And, we have begun dreaming about ways we might be able to join them in nourishing the community by being agents of God’s peace.

But, as we look back at our efforts over the past year and the progress we have made, I will be the first to admit that our progress has been much slower than I or any of us would have desired. Securing office space and moving took far longer and required far more time and energy than I would ever imagined.

I also realize that if we examine our efforts and what we’ve accomplished thus far it would be easy for us to be frustrated and discouraged and to begin to lose heart at these “small things,” questioning whether we are still part of God’s plan and whether He has a plan for us. It would be easy for us to abandon the mission and “despise the day of small things.”

However, these things had to happen before we could begin to move forward and discover who and where God is calling us to be. New beginnings often appear to be “small things,” but they set the stage for development, growth, and maturation. Now, with these moves behind us and new relationships with Hawk Ridge and CCSC beginning to develop, we are set to get down the hard work of discipleship, growing as disciples individually and as a community, and joining God in His mission. And that is going to be our focus going forward. It’s going to be hard work, filled with twists, turns, and uncertainties. But if we are willing to become the disciples Jesus calls us to be, one day we will look back on “the day of small things” and rejoice at what God has done in and through us. And I for one am excited about the journey.

This piece was originally published in the June 2017 edition of the Peace Moravian Church newsletter.

Footnotes:

[1] New Bible commentary: 21st century ed. (Leicester (GB): Inter-Varsity Press, 1997)., 863.

[2] Ibid, 863.

[3] Ibid, 863.

[4] Ibid, 864.

 


Photo of Rusty Rushing

Photo by Patti Smith

Rusty Rushing is a provincial acolyte and student pastor at Peace Moravian Church in Charlotte, NC

 

 

 

 

 

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