Readings for the Week of October 12
Exiles: Then and Now
For the people of Jerusalem, exile meant imprisonment awat and at home. In the past they lived by the “rivers of Babylon” and by Jesus’ day they were under house arrest. First Babylon, then the Greeks, and by the first century it was the Romans who had God’s people under their boot. Allowed to worship in the Temple, they were not truly free to live as the God of their ancestors had.
Their exile was obvious. Roman banners, Caesars face on their coins, taxes, and their own leaders collaborating with their oppressor. Our exile is less obvious. We are under the boot but not of a military regime. Instead, we are held in self-imposed exiles by materialism, consumerism, and hyper-individualism. We are languishing by the rivers of Babylon and we don’t know it. The question for us becomes, if we did know that we were in exile, would we care?
Jeremiah encourages the original Jerusalem exiles to work for the betterment of the city that they are in. Plant gardens, raise children, build homes, and pray to the LORD. That last point is critical. Prayer was the mark of one who in exile but not surrendered to the gods of that exile. Can we plant, build, marry, bear children, in a world where the gods of our exile are so desirable? Prayer is our lifeline. Prayer is the means by which we remain in the exile but not of it.
Lord, we pray that your grace may always precede and follow us, that we may continually be given to good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.