I am setting up this post in advance - as I am not sure where I shall be on Sunday morning. Friday I leave for London, to stay with Liz, then Saturday down to Folkestone for another WWDP Preparation Day, and at some point I shall return to Kirby Muxloe. Depending on various factors [weather, fatigue, traffic etc] I shall make my decision later as to when I return to the Midlands. But I so want to be in church on Sunday morning. Bob is preaching through the book of Nehemiah – this week is chapter 2. Last week’s sermon was great [find the podcast on the KMFC website] But there are 6 words in ch2 v6 which always challenge me. Then the king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked me, “How long will your journey take, and when will you get back?”
I am not going to write a whole theology based on those six words – but I often wonder about them.
- Why does it tell us she was beside him?
- Was she involved in the discussion – plying Artaxerxes with questions - Ask him how long he’ll be gone for, when is he coming back? Who will be cupbearer while he’s away?…
- Was she happy and encouraging about the planned trip – or full of anxieties?
- Was she just there in the Throne Room to look pretty – or did her husband value her thoughts and ideas, even though she was a ‘mere woman’ in a male dominated society?
But the very fact that the passage mentions her presence is important for me – it reminds me that marriage is a partnership. It works best if we work at it together. That doesn’t mean we have to do everything together, or like exactly the same things [he has Star Trek, I have Downton – he likes modern art, I prefer the Pre-Raphaelites – he has cheese on toast, I have Marmite…] but I think it does mean we make space for each other to enjoy different things, as well as sharing time doing things we both like.
I have been stupidly busy this term. I choose that word carefully – all my supply teaching and WWDP commitments have come together and not left me much space to breathe. I know it will ease up by early November, but I have seen an awful lot of motorways in the past few weeks, and slept in beds all over the country. Bob has been patient as ever, and tolerant of the neglected ironing basket [even more neglected than usual] On Monday night he cooked a wonderfully romantic candlelit dinner, all ready for me on my return from Somerset. That was totally unexpected, and such a lovely thought. I hope to return the kindness once my schedule lightens [about the time his workload changes up a gear, as Advent approaches]
Nehemiah’s story shows how everyone gets involved in rebuilding Jerusalem, and together the work gets done. Whether it is marriage, family, friendship, church fellowship, workplace or community, if we see it as a partnership and work together tpo support and encourage, then we will achieve more. Annie Valloton’s image of ‘bearing one another’s burdens’ is brilliant
I am not sure how long my Kent-Leicestershire journey will take – or when I will get back. But I’d like to be back in time to be sitting in my pew for the sermon if I can.