Last week, a reading from the Psalms popped into my mind … How could we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land? (Psalm 137:4). It struck me that our church buildings have been closed for four weeks with at least another four ahead of us. We, a people with tremendous freedoms have been told to stay inside, to self-isolate or be subject to large fines if we don’t. We, who live in our cars as much as our homes, running here and there, are told to keep off the highways. This is truly a foreign land!
If someone would have painted this picture for me a few years back, I would not have believed it. How would we survive as a people, as a nation, I would ask? Where would we, where could we find the strength and the faith to carry on or would this all be lost in our isolation?
It is believed the psalmist wrote this while in exile in Babylon. His churches had been destroyed, his livelihood and culture had been taken away and he was living in a distant land. While mourning this reality, he reaches out for a solution. It times like these, perhaps especially in times like these, remember who we are, he writes, what we value, what we believe. It is these internal strengths that keep is going when our world tries to hold us down.
How do we sing to the Lord in a foreign land? How do we be the church when the church buildings are off limits and we cannot congregate in groups larger than five? How do we be in community amid our isolation.
The passage ‘all things work for good for those who love the Lord’ is sometimes difficult to understand but I do believe, in the hard times, in our struggles, goodness always rises to the top.
And so we sing of goodness in these days of Covid-19; the goodness of all those who are working to keep us safe and fed and healthy.
We sing of neighbours and friends who call, and text and reach out in a myriad of ways letting us know people care.
We sing of technology and people who know how to use it that allows us to see the faces of our loved ones whom we cannot visit and to see our faith family united through a series of little boxes each containing the smiles and faith of people we know and love.
We sing of musicians, past and present who lift our spirits and to all who share in our worship experiences
We sing of a God who is with us and a faith that sustains us.
Yes, we are in a foreign land, and it is not always easy, but let us find something to sing about, because with such songs in our hearts, this too shall pass!!