By the rivers of Babylon,
There we sat down, yea, we wept
When we remembered Zion.
We hung our harps
Upon the willows in the midst of it.
For there those who carried us away captive asked of us a song,
And those who plundered us requested mirth,
Saying, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”
But how could we possibly sing the Lord’s song on foreign soil?(Psalm 137: 1-4)
All week this Psalm has been ‘singing’ in my head; you know those earworms you get of music? The tune I have in my head is the Israeli melody that’s on page 858 of Voices United. All of you who are choir geeks like me, you’ll know it as a round that we’ve done basically as a lament.
(Ok. Now its almost taking over my head! I’m so distractible, sometimes!)
All of this aside, I’m feeling a little ‘captive’ these days. I feel captive by Covid, the rapidly changing health guidelines that I’m itching for, yet feel a little unsafe and insecure. And I feel captive by the ‘Truck Convoy’ that started out as a protest but has morphed into something I never thought I would see in my lifetime. I also feel oddly captive by the weather; the snow storms kept me at home several days in a row, and the ice build up in our parking lot made for a big tumble on my part. (Nothing catastrophic; and my thanks to my angels who cared for me after – you know who you are).
Things feel unsafe. Insecure. Threatening. And I have longed for the days when gathering was the norm, when protests were not pitting people against each other and threatening the wellbeing of very vulnerable people, and when the weather didn’t swing in such extremes that it was more manageable.
Held in Babylon. Longing for Zion.
I think what I’ve found most disturbing is that there are people who profess to have the same faith as I do, who have gathered on Parliament Hill and prayed the same way I would; in the name of my Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer. Who have used the same writings I consider sacred scriptures. Who have created chaos; violence and threatened the lives of people I love. Who have used symbols of hate along symbols I hold dear. Who have shown such disregard for the lives of the people living in Ottawa, and their own children that they would inflict noise and fumes with abandon on them all; would snarl lines of safety and impede people to getting food and care in a timely way. I’ve heard of hospital staff being heckled. People wearing masks being harassed. And most horribly, vandalism and violence inflicted on people and property that fly a rainbow flag, or are of a different race or ethnicity.
And then, in the face of this all tell us to ‘Sing a song about Zion’. That we use their same language and same rhetoric that they are using to hate and destroy.
“But how can we sing the Lord’s song on foreign soil”.
This place we are in – this is ‘foreign soil’. This place where we are kept captive by words that are slightly skewed versions of words that have been previously life giving and liberating. This is not our home. Its not where we belong.
But it is where we are. And so, today, my dear Bethel community, join me in reclaiming our words and our symbols. Join me in reclaiming our identity as people of faith who stand for justice, love and mercy. Join me as followers of Jesus who tells us that the last shall be first, and the meek will inherit the earth.
We don’t need to be captives is Babylon. Stand with me and shout that this is not who we are. We are called to more than this. We are called together to do the work of Jesus and to love one another. We are called to sing our songs.
Blessings today, and Remember you are Loved.