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FEBRUARY 26, 2021


BIBLE READING


PSALM 34:1-22

 

1 I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. 2 I will glory in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice.

3 Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.


4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. 5 Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. 6 This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles. 7 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.


8 Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. 9 Fear the Lord, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing. 10 The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

11 Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. 12 Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, 13 keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies. 14 Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.


15 The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry; 16 but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to blot out their name from the earth.

17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. 18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.


19 The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all; 20 he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken.

21 Evil will slay the wicked; the foes of the righteous will be condemned. 22 The Lord will rescue his servants; no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.

 

RETURN FROM EXILE


Over the last two years or more, I have been continually drawn to the Biblical Theme of Exile. For a couple of reasons, first, because of my own personal experiences of dealing with a mental health issue, an Anxiety disorder, that resulted in being in a place of pain and dislocation. Truth is I felt like I was in Exile. Second, Exile has been of interest to me because the more I read and studied the scriptures, the more I began to discover that this theme of Exile was not isolated to a couple of spots in the Old Testament text, but rather the theme permeates the whole of the Bible.


Usually, the word Exile is defined as the state of being barred or driven from one's native country. To be an exile is to experience the devastating reality of being driven out of a secure place of belonging. I don’t know how many of you are like me, but I love my home. It is a place of safety, joy, and peace. My Family will tell you it's hard to get me to go very far from home. The thoughts of being barred or driven or dragged from my home gives me this feeling of instability, of fear of not being with the people I hold dear. It would be devasting wouldn’t it?


Over the next few Sundays our talks are going to be a series of reflections on the biblical theme of exile called RETURN FROM EXILE. I believe this is profoundly relevant to us as Jesus followers, as people living in the midst of a pandemic, and also in light of the overwhelming stories of the rise in Mental Health issues currently in our society. These and more issues and experiences lead us to a feeling of Exile, of being driven out of our secure place of belonging.


How have you experienced feelings of exile in your own life?


We want to look at and attempt to understand how God’s people are to rely on him in the midst of isolation and uncertainty. Psalm 34 above reminds us that God is our refuge, our place of security in the midst of chaos and distress. To take refuge in God means to look to him for comfort and security in the midst of chaos.


What other sources (positive or negative) do you tend to look to for comfort and security during times of trouble?


What happens when you put your hope in these sources instead of in God?


Psalm 34 teaches us to maintain hope in God rather than seek security elsewhere. When the future feels uncertain, we are called to focus on doing good, seek peace in our lives and our communities, and trust that God consistently meets his people in their experiences of exile.

 

Here is a video overview of the Biblical Theme of Exile. It is only 5 minutes long, but I believe it gives a sound overview of the theme we will talk about in our Sunday Talks and Devotionals in the coming days.


 


I arise today Through the strength of heaven; Light of the sun, Splendor of fire, Speed of lightning, Swiftness of the wind, Depth of the sea, Stability of the earth, Firmness of the rock.


I arise today Through God’s strength to pilot me; God’s might to uphold me, God’s wisdom to guide me, God’s eye to look before me, God’s ear to hear me, God’s word to speak for me, God’s hand to guard me, God’s way to lie before me, God’s shield to protect me, God’s hosts to save me Afar and anear, Alone or in a multitude.


Christ shield me today Against wounding Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in the eye that sees me, Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today Through the mighty strength Of the Lord of creation.

Amen.


The Prayer of St. Patrick

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