Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏩ ⏹️
Ezra Praying, by Gustave Doré (Getty Images)
Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,
— Ezra 1:1
Seventy years on, and Babylon has fallen to Persia. According to the book of Ezra this was all preordained, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled. Cyrus enters the picture as a noble, compassionate king wanting those he rules to be happy. He offers the Israelites their freedom, to return to their lands with all their treasures restored to them. Interestingly, the majority prefer to remain in their adopted land, and only a remnant choose to go. They were like the few hairs that Ezekiel had lovingly wrapped in his cloak after he cut off his beard.1
For some of us, comfort outweighs integrity, or perhaps put more kindly we reassess our integrity. For others though, following our hearts, our faith, our passion is paramount, and no matter the hardship this is what we must do. The faithful remnant return to Jerusalem, to rebuild and to recreate the life of faith their ancestors had so carelessly thrown away. From remnants of cloth great works of art have been created,2 and from the remnant of a people a city is about to be rebuilt, and a faith that today spreads across the world is revived. Let us never underestimate minorities, outsiders, nor assume that fragmentation will always result in disintegration. History tells a different story.
1 Engagement, Ezekiel 5:1-3
2 e.g. American quilts hailed as miraculous works of modern art and The Quilting Tradition