Imaginary Lines daydreaming for beginners

Life in Exile

People have found themselves in exile before, many times. The Israelites became the Jews by the waters of Babylon; many times have Christians, Muslims, and countless other faiths or ethnic groups found themselves refugees from the Normal Everyday.

Of course, the instinctive response to this would be to say “Rubbish!”, “we are not in a foreign land, miles from home with no way back.” And yet, we are in uncharted territory and we can’t be certain if things will return exactly to the same sort of Normal.

If you might allow there is something in this then you may permit me to consider how the Jews did respond in their unwanted and sudden exile.

“How shall we sing the LORD’S song in a strange land?” was their question (Ps 137).
How then do we, as a living church community, find ways to thrive in these new surroundings?

Peter McDowell, in his book At Home in Exile, says of the Jewish community
“The re-interpreting of the ancient tradition in a new and different way, allied with the translation of the texts themselves, shows a remarkable creativity. It was a creativity that was both necessary for survival, but more importantly a creativity that is inherent in God’s promise and purpose that Israel would be a blessing to the nations. The crisis of the Exile caused the community to come together in order to survive, to look back to their defining texts and to appropriate these in the new context. Out of this came a new form to their life and worship; a new shape to the faithful life. It was a form that could not have been predicted beforehand, while they were still resident in Jerusalem. Yet looking back clear lines of continuity could be seen. It was a paradigm shift.”

For the Jews, loss of Land and Temple were almost unbearable, but out of it came a new and powerful desire to re-read the scriptures — thus setting the stage for the development of the Synagogue. Esther and Daniel found authentic but different ways of being faithful to God’s Story. The Early Church did the same when they found themselves exiled from the synagogue; and the Church Fathers (and countless others through the centuries) discovered authentic Christianity expressed in new, and often surprising, ways in their own experiences of exile.

So, we in the Parish are finding new and innovative ways to stay in contact and grow: live-streaming, our e-news and more. We have Social Media and smartphones; we have just started a Buddies initiative to make sure all are safe and well. The Holy Spirit is still breathing life into us. Other things will develop as we go. We CAN learn how to sing a new song. Brilliant!