“The word of Adonai came a second time to Hagai on the twenty-fourth day of the month, as follows: “Tell Z’rubavel, governor of Y’hudah, ‘I will shake the heavens and the earth, I will overturn the thrones of kingdoms, I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the nations, and I will overturn the chariots and the people riding in them; the horses and their riders will fall, each by the sword of his brother. When that day comes,’ says Adonai-Tzva’ot, ‘I will take you, Z’rubavel, my servant, the son of Sh’alti’el,’ says Adonai, ‘and wear you like a signet ring; for I have chosen you,’ says Adonai-Tzva’ot.”” (Haggai 2:20-23)
Complete Jewish Bible (CJB) Copyright © 1998 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved.
One of our lectionary readings earlier this week in College was Haggai 2:20-23. The focus is on Z’rubavel (Zerubbabel), the Persian-appointed Governor of Judah during the Exile. We reflected on his unenviable position, selected to lead a depressed and captive community who have been forcibly relocated. His is the difficult task of maintaining the cultural and national identity of his people while they are imprisoned in an alien culture, of diplomatic negotiation and liaison with their captors, of keeping hope alive. The Jewish commentaries mark his success over decades in keeping the community intact and faithful and faith-filled. He is named and honoured in the histories as a hero of the faith. Ecclesiasticus (49:11) includes him among “the fathers of Israel” and he is celebrated in a Hannukah hymn of God’s deliverances in the Authorised Prayer Book (Singer’s Siddur version). Yet he is virtually unknown to Christian congregations, a mere footnote, an unknown and unsung character. Despite that, he has a key role in seeing Israel through its time of Exile.
And so we reflected on a simple question: who is the Z’rubavel in your congregation? Who is your faithful prayer warrior? Who is your consistent encourager? Who is your faithful cleaner? Who is your ever-reliable key-holder, chair-stacker, tech-operator, dish-washer, bin-emptier, odd-jobber, garden-keeper? Who is your unknown, unacknowledged, yet vital, faith-community servant? In this week of Remembrance, who were those Z’rubavels who quietly answered the call to serve the Nation? One day all these Z’rubavels will hear the Lord Himself say to them, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Come and share your Master’s happiness.”
To you who are and were the Z’rubavels for us: thank you. Let us honour and thank those among us who keep us going with a thousand-and-one unsung tasks. Your names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life even if they’ll never appear in our Minutes and Archives. Let us remember those too who kept us going with hope in the darkest days. Their names are known in heaven even if they never appear in Dispatches or on our War Memorials.