Good morning all! Thanks for sending good healing vibes. Keep them coming. Turns out I may have a nasty virus that I just have to wait out….my favorite thing to do.;)
Today’s scripture: Isaiah 4:2-6 (NRSV)
The Future Glory of the Survivors in Zion
On that day the branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be the pride and glory of the survivors of Israel. Whoever is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy, everyone who has been recorded for life in Jerusalem, once the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and cleansed the bloodstains of Jerusalem from its midst by a spirit of judgment and by a spirit of burning. Then the Lord will create over the whole site of Mount Zion and over its places of assembly a cloud by day and smoke and the shining of a flaming fire by night. Indeed over all the glory there will be a canopy. It will serve as a pavilion, a shade by day from the heat, and a refuge and a shelter from the storm and rain.
If you will indulge me I want to spend just a little bit more time talking about exile. I want to talk about it because it plays so heavily into our journey. Advent is a time to think about what it means to come out of exile and into reconnection.
So what is exile? By Merriam Webster terms, exile means “a situation in which you are forced to leave your country or home and go to live in a foreign country”So it is a place that is not home. It is a foreign location to you.
When we compare to the Israelite exile from Babylon in 587 BCE this is true. Waves of people are forced out of Jerusalem (first the important people and then the city falls and other Israelites follow into exile). But what about us? How do we live in exile at times or how do we even just find ourselves in exile?
Marcus Borg recently wrote an article about Advent imploring us to move away from the repentance version of Advent but into a season of meaning. He looks at a season of Light in the darkness, returning from exile, and yearning for fulfillment. I have to admit this is much more how I look at this season than repentance…we can talk about that another time. The article is here…..http://http://www.patheos.com/blogs/marcusborg/2013/11/thinking-about-advent/
But here is what he says about the exile piece:
“Return from exile – from life in Babylon. As a biblical metaphor, Babylon has political and economic meanings as well as psychological- spiritual meanings. The latter refer to the separation and estrangement that most often mark our lives. “Estrangement” is an especially resonant word: it means to be separated from that to which we belong. Return from exile is about re-connection to that from which we have become estranged.“
So not only is it a foreign land it could be estrangement from where we belong. This is about disconnection from where we belong. And this hits home. Have you ever woken up one day and said, “wow, how did I get here?” Have you felt disconnected from friends, family, the world? Have you been so busy that you feel as though you are running from location to location without enjoying the in between? Have you all of a sudden felt great apathy for what is going on and just don’t feel a sense of belonging? Have you cut yourself off from others to keep your vulnerability to yourself? Have you forgotten what it feels like to connect on a real level with someone else and shared your hopes and dreams?
I think exile is more prevalent than we think. And a big portion of this season is about re-connecting in. Isaiah above paints a hopeful picture of what it is to connect back into where we belong. There will be a tent of belonging. There will be holiness and glory and joy. When we return from whatever disconnect we have managed to get into there will be great joy. This is the season to come back from exile. God never left you. God will never leave you there. How will you reconnect? For me, the busyness of the season tends to catch me off guard and I have to really be intentional to keep the connection going. And as I sit in my house for a week, I have to be intentional not to totally disconnect. Prayers for each other on the journey.