Singing in a strange land

It has been so good to be away for a break in the beautiful Scottish Borders, a place close to our hearts and one that is very familiar from many trips there. However, wherever we went and whatever we did this time had to be thought about and done in a different way due to the pandemic that is changing so much of the way we live.  As I thought about this it struck me that a most appropriate psalm for these days is Psalm 137. The people of Israel had seen the loss of so much-their Promised Land, their loved ones, their way of life, the beloved and magnificent temple at Jerusalem. A small remnant had been carried into captivity in Babylon and when urged to sing by their captors they cry out…

“How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land? “

We may not be in captivity to foreign powers, but it can feel that we are nevertheless in captivity to this virus. Some have lost loved ones; others have lost jobs and businesses.  We have all seen our freedom curtailed and our way of living from day to day having to adapt to ever changing restrictions. How shall we, as God’s people living through this time, sing his song in this strange land?  

Well, we have already seen so much that is good and creative. People coming together virtually in all sorts of ways- Zoom, Facebook, video calls, You Tube-people have connected with each other and with God. Phone calls, emails, letters, cards through the door, socially distanced coffees, meeting in small groups in houses, the list could go on.  Reflecting on this- and especially on our current status here in St James and St Anne’s with two buildings that are expensive and costly to maintain-I wonder what God might be teaching us about singing his song in the future?

Our security should never be in bricks and mortar but in God who lives in us by grace. Singing the Lord’s song is something we do not need a church building to do-especially since we are not able to sing in any church at the moment! But we can all sing the Lords song wherever we find ourselves day by day. A song of thanks for all that we have. A song of praise for the beauty and wonder of the world God has created. A song of joy for the love and mercy given in Christ. A song of hope for the future we have through Christ’s death and resurrection. A song of God’s great love for the whole world- yes, a song even in this strange land. God does not mind how musical or not we may be. He does not mind if we sing in the bath or the kitchen or whilst out walking. What he does long for is that we all sing and praise him however we can and wherever we are. And maybe, as we emerge from this, we will discover that the new song we have learned is one that really does turn the world -and the church- upside down!

By the rivers of the Tweed…there I wondered how to sing the Lord’s song in this strange land..

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