My reflection from Sunday’s worship.
“And even as we lament our exile and long for return; we have seen that many of our neighbors are not lamenting exile but instead they long for exodus. They have lifted their cries of frustration and anger, and though it has seemed for so long that those cries have fallen into the wells of silence; they have been heard, they have been heard by God.”
Psalm 137 is one of the most poignant songs of Lament within the psalms; it begins;
By the rivers of Babylon—there we sat down and there we wept when we remembered Zion.
On the willows there we hung up our harps.
For there our captors asked us for songs, and our tormentors asked for mirth, saying, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”
How could we sing the LORD’s song in a foreign land?
It is the plaintive cry of exile; it asks “who can we be when all that is familiar is snatched away?
I believe that for many of us, these past few months have felt like that, like exile. And it is clear that too many would rather live in denial than try to forge a different life in this “new” land we find ourselves in.
But just as God was present in the exile, God is present with us now and showing us blossoms of hope and grace in this time and in this place.
And even as we lament our exile and long for return; we have seen that many of our neighbors are not lamenting exile but instead they long for exodus. They have lifted their cries of frustration and anger, and though it has seemed for so long that those cries have fallen into the wells of silence; they have been heard, they have been heard by God.
And God is acting just as God acted with the Israelites in bondage in Israel. God is opening eyes and softening hearts so that ALL his people might breathe free and live secure in their liberty.
And it is good for us to be reminded too, that exodus is not a simple and clean process. It was messy and difficult and confounding and surely sometimes too slow. Pharaoh’s heart remained hardened throughout the trials of the plagues and he desired, more than anything, that Israel should remain in bondage.
Today, there are still those, some with great authority and power, who also would desire that our brothers and sisters of color should remain, if not in literal bondage anymore; than at least “less-than” in every way that counts.
The work of Freedom was not completed in the Emancipation proclamation or the 13th amendment. It was not wrapped up by the Supreme Court or Martin Luther King, Jr. IT was not completed with the election of Barack Obama. The work of freedom remains unfinished.
But it is God’s desire that it be complete, so we can be sure that it will be done. And we can commit ourselves to working with God as agents and allies of freedom. Or we can weep within our own laments, or stand idly by, or even stand against God.
But God’s Will will be done, on this earth, just as it is in heaven.
We have asked for this day of the Lord, this day of Freedom, in our every prayer. Let us not falter at the moment of its coming. Let us not fear what freedom will bring; know that freedom will cast us into an unknown place, a wilderness, where we will be tempted to give up what we have longed for.
But know that God will remain, that our paths will be marked by God’s invitation, that something new and better, a place of abundance, awaits us on the other side. So let us lift our voices and sing, let us sing of God’s presence and promise, let us sing the songs of freedom.
Thanks be to God.