“Yet now take courage, O Zerubbabel, says the Lord;
take courage, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest;
take courage, all you people of the land, says the Lord;
work, for I am with you, says the Lord of hosts.” – Haggai 2:4
“Only a demanding common task builds community.”
This is the wisdom of the founder of the Iona Community in Scotland, George MacLeod.
Haggai would agree.
He made the long trek back from Exile with a burning passion to rebuild the temple.
But years pass.
“Just do it,” Haggai pleads. “Let’s honour the glory of God through this place.”
The building begins.
Only to cease.
The broken hearted builders can’t get past the picture in their heads. The former temple is a memory so potent that the present work seems fruitless. Despair sets in.
No one there even saw the glory of the former temple with their own eyes. Still the memory of Solomon’s magnificent building so powerfully looms that it grasps their heart and they lay down their tools. There is no sound of hammer and saw.
“We can’t bring back the former glory,” they said. “It’s hopeless.”
“We don’t have the resources now to make this beautiful for God,” they said.
“The day for glorious temples is over,” they said. “We’re wasting our time.”
Memory doesn’t inspire.
Memory can’t build community.
Memory won’t feed a vision.
“Take courage, take courage, take courage – and work,”
“For I am with you,”
It’s not just what we can see.
It is the work of our heart.
We build more than buildings.
A demanding common task builds community.