‘Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up. Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, “Amen! Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground.’ Nehemiah 8.5-6
The book that Ezra was reading to the people was their equivalent of our Bible, and the people approached the occasion with such enthusiasm and expectation that it is little wonder they got so much out of it. You may well be thinking that the description of what happened as Ezra began to read out loud is somewhat more joyful that the atmosphere greeting the person reading the lesson in your church on a Sunday morning!
However, this attitude is not just about the way we approach reading the Bible, but about the way we approach most things to do with our faith – even the fast approaching season of Christmas. If we face it with a sense of foreboding and inevitability, perhaps the best we can hope for is that it won’t be as bad as we feared! Whereas if we approach it with an attitude of wondering what new thing we can learn about Jesus, and what new opportunity we can find to show love to others, then perhaps we will discover new joys and delights over this time.
Whatever aspect of your Christian life you are pondering, whether it be going to church, reading the Bible, praying, or even approaching Christmas, the one thing that will have a huge influence on everything is something you can really control – your attitude.
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The Revd John Ryeland, Director of The Christian Healing Mission